UCG Current Crisis

UCG members are looking for answers in the latest upheaval of the administration and the COE.

Peter Hawkins

Monday 7th February, 2011

To UCGia President and Chairman

Re: Resignation from the ministry of United Church of God


Dear Denny and Melvin,


With regret Sonja and I are resigning our part in the ministry of United Church of God as of today. We have appreciated the opportunities to help others come to know the true Gospel and help them towards salvation through God’s grace and the life of Jesus Christ living in true Christians.


This separation from UCG has come about because since sending Denny an email in July 2010 requesting further efforts at reconciliation, we have not only seen no progress but a deterioration in relationships between the Council, the Administration, and a large body of elders and members.


The issues causing this rift have been misrepresented in Q&A sessions to members that we have heard. What was needed was a humble response to private letters of concern last year. Well over the 25% of elders also signed a petition to the Council to reconsider what had happened in Latin America, and instead of being allowed the opportunity to have the matter discussed, threats of expulsion for causing division were issued.


Subsequent events in firing or forcing resignations from faithful and long-standing ministers are well documented. Emotive derogatory descriptions have been used in letters to the membership, on the Elders’ Forum and in other media. And the straw men of Texas and desire for power keep being brought up when they are not the issues.


A forced exit of more than a third of the UCG elders in December 2010 came about because the Council would not allow ministers to question the decisions. Some who would not support the Council without reservation were threatened with expulsion. Yet the member letter of 23 December states “It is being said that we demand personal loyalty to men. This is not true—as we would not even sign a document that required that.”


Perhaps the GCE in May 2011 would have been completely different if the spirit of humility had reigned. After all, what harm would have been done by a review of the events and decisions of 2010 with all parties involved?


Sonja and I respect the offices you have been given, but we cannot walk together any more (Amos 3:3). We pray we will be together in God’s Kingdom in different circumstances after God has purified us all.


Sincerely,


Peter Hawkins                        Sonja Hawkins

Ralph Levy

Circumstances of My Termination from Ambassador Bible Center

Since I have been asked on a number of occasions how events led up to my no longer being employed as an instructor at Ambassador Bible Center, I thought it might be helpful to writ...e a short note on the subject.

In the latter part of the year 2010 it was becoming obvious that a major crisis was erupting in the United Church of God, IA. Disagreement over the secret forum, the proposed/rescinded move to Texas, the proposal of a study group to review the functioning of our governmental system, the removal of virtually all of the Cincinnati administration, beginning in late June, the removal of the regional pastors, and the handling of the Latin American situation, all were leading up to very serious difficulties. Along with others I detested the idea of a split, but was coming to see it might be unavoidable.

During all of this I continued to teach my ABC classes, making virtually no reference to the Church situation in the classroom. Aside from occasional requests to the students that they pray about it, I said nothing from behind the classroom microphone. However, in private I did discuss my views and concerns. I was concerned about what I perceived to be a general move to politicization of the Church, manifested in a long list of matters badly handled by the Council of Elders (or, more accurately, by the CoE majority – how sad that term even has to be used!). The word “Church” and the word “politics” should never be mentioned in the same sentence; yet that was precisely what we had come to.

When Mr. Dennis Luker came into office in early July he asked me to be involved in attempts to resolve the Latin American impasse, acting as a communications conduit for him. I also gave my advice and input on a number of occasions from July till shortly after the Feast. I have known Mr. Luker for many years, and, though I didn’t hold out much hope, felt it was worth doing what I was able to try to bring about some sort of reconciliation for Latin America.

Once the Feast had come and gone and there was no direct invitation to the Latin American pastors to come in to Cincinnati to express themselves and to attempt to resolve the crisis in cooperation with the administration and Council, it was becoming clear there was now little hope. It was and is my view that, in order to speak of genuine attempts at reconciliation, it would have been necessary for all concerned to come and confer, with everything out on the table, and to seek a solution acceptable to all. After all, we had said multiple times “United works by consensus,” though sadly there was no such consensus concerning Latin America.

By early December, we were hearing claims from the Council that there had been “multiple attempts at reconciliation for Latin America.” Much as I dislike to baldly contradict other ministers, that assertion is simply untrue. I was present in the meetings with Mr. Leon Walker on August 11, and with Eduardo Hernandez on September 14. Neither of these was a real attempt at reconciliation. Had there been meaningful follow-up, it would have been possible to speak of attempts at reconciliation; yet there was no such.

About December 10 I let my emotions run away for perhaps the first time. I sat at my computer, and posted the following words on my Facebook wall: “Don’t be deceived. There was no attempt at reconciliation for Latin America.” I stand by those words, which were up for two minutes, before I thought better of it and removed the post. In those two minutes, someone read and took exception to the post and it found its way to the Church president.

On December 13, in the first of three meetings involving Mr. Luker, Mr. Gary Antion and me, I was called in. Mr. Luker read the Facebook post to me and I confirmed I had indeed written it. I also told him it was up for only two minutes. I then asked if he wanted me to resign. He did not demand my resignation at that point. I then raised the question of when my departure from ABC should be: January (semester break) or May (graduation). Mr. Luker thanked me for bringing it up, and told me he would put the question to the management team and get back with me.

The second meeting took place on December 21, again involving Mr. Luker, Mr. Antion and me. It was a short meeting in which he told me the management team had decided I would be leaving the employ of UCGIA in January and not in May. I accepted the decision, and that night wrote a letter acknowledging the decision taken, and resigning as an elder in UCGIA (though not as a minister of Jesus Christ in the Body of Christ). I turned in my letter the following morning, and then began to make the decision known.

Once the students heard of my impending removal, two of the student leaders sought an audience with Mr. Luker, and on December 23 (I think that date is correct) spent some time with him (I was told their meeting lasted some 75 minutes), requesting I might be permitted to remain till graduation in May. Subsequent to this I was informed the decision was to be “reviewed,” and that Mr. Luker wished to talk to me at the Winter Family Weekend in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Louisville event was busy so we never got to talk there. Once back in the office, in the last days of December, I requested another meeting to settle the matter. For everyone’s sake, not least the students’, it had to be decided once and for all.

The third meeting took place on the last day of the year, December 31. Mr. Luker asked me what I thought. For not the first time, I stated I was willing to remain with ABC to teach the students till graduation in May. I would not use the classroom mike to discuss Church matters, but people would know privately where I stood. Mr. Luker then informed me the question had gone to the Council of Elders and they had decided my employment was to end on January 14, 2011.

So, was I fired or did I resign? Since I offered more than once to remain till May, and those offers were declined, I believe it more accurate to say I was fired from my teaching position at Ambassador Bible Center, after 11 ½ years.

On a more positive note, I am certain that education programs in God’s Church have not come to an end. As events unfold, we will see new (and, hopefully, better) education programs for the Church of God. Let’s all keep education in the Church on our prayer list. The best is yet to come!

Ralph Levy

[Permission is granted to reproduce and share this document.]

Joel Meeker

January 2011

Dear friend,
Thank you for your note and your questions about what has been happening in the United Church of God (UCG), and why I left.
As you have visited http://ucgcurrentcrisis.webs.com, you have access to much of the pertinent information in the form of primary documents. I will respond with my own perspective here.


First of all thank you for your trust in asking for my thoughts in this difficult time. I need to let you know in the interest of transparency, that I was fired from UCG a few weeks back for being open with members of the French association, and warning them of spiritual danger I see in remaining with UCG under its current leadership. You will want to know why I felt it important to do that when it would obviously lead to my dismissal and the removal of my credentials by the leadership of the United Church of God.


The question I and others are often asked is “Where is the smoking gun?” in what's wrong in UCG. That is usually assumed to be of necessity “doctrinal,” as if a compromise of some theoretical type with a doctrine is the only valid reason for leaving a church association. In other words someone would have to teach that we will officially change a doctrine (the Sabbath is obsolete, the law of God is done away, God is a Trinity, etc.) before there would be a really serious issue. Everyone makes mistakes, we are told, therefore wrong and damaging behavior or decisions from our leadership are not reason to take the drastic step of leaving a church association. The president and the Council would have us believe this, and they repeat that the current crisis is not about doctrine, therefore there is no reason to take any action. They claim this is just a disagreement among men with no spiritual overtones. So trust them; they’re sincere and they’re in authority, so trust them. However, we must remember that doctrine is more than a theoretical belief, and more is required of Church leadership than simply thinking proper thoughts and teaching proper theory.


I will first give a short answer as to why I felt I had to be open about the danger of staying with UCG, and then give a more detailed explanation.
The short answer is first of all,  this present Council and administration are acting as if they’re “above the law” – both the governing documents in UCG and the law of God. Of course they repeat that they have high regard for and obey all proper rules and laws. But in reality they have repeatedly broken those laws, and continue to do so. Some of this is unethical (violations of men’s laws or rules); some of it is outright sin (violations of God’s law). As God does, we are to forgive sins against us when the sinner repents, but there must be repentance.


This brings us to the second point: when confronted with evidence of their unethical and sinful behavior, this Council and administration have refused to repent. They refuse even to call themselves into question. They will generally admit “we all make mistakes; I make mistakes” but they don’t admit to any particular violations of any rule or law. Rather, their answer is always to quote the UCG constitution or bylaws to claim “we are in charge, and we interpret the rules.” That is almost the only part of the UCG governing documents that they quote: the Council is “in charge,” the Council has oversight, the Council interprets, the Council decides. I believe everyone agrees that the Council is “in charge” and “decides” but only to the extent allowed by the association’s governing documents and the law of God. The Council and administration cannot lawfully exceed those limits. But they have done so and continue to do so.


The Rules of Association, for example, that must guide relationships between UCGIA, the US corporation, and national associations in other countries have been completely junked; there is no longer even a pretense of abiding by that document, the respect of which is required in the UCG Constitution and Bylaws. Constitution article 3.2.2.4 states clearly “The Council of Elders shall conduct itself in accordance with Scripture, this Constitution, the duly adopted corporate Bylaws, the Rules of Association of the UCG and applicable law.” But the Council has not and does not.


They seem to want us to accept the idea that in UCG there is government of men directly under God, in the mold of a Pastor General with unlimited authority. The Council of Elders, goes this reasoning, are the men that have either been chosen specifically by God or at least have been duly elected with God’s permission, and therefore to dissent from their decisions is rebellion against God’s government. The president appears to believe this, and says so often in his letters. The Council repeats this in its various communications.


One should note that the men who make up the current Council did not hold this point of view about our Church government before they were in power. They actively worked against previous Council and GCE decisions, and several of them admit to having criticized their predecessors on the Council and in the administration. That was acceptable back then, but they would have us believe it is now rebellion against God.


But more importantly, UCG was not and is not organized to have a government of “special” men directly under God. We didn’t feel when we organized that God had led us to see any particular men as directly chosen by Him to be our leaders. Rather we were to govern and be governed collegially, and so set up a framework of rules, under which each elder would have certain abilities and authorities and also certain responsibilities.
All elders in UCG are part of the General Conference of Elders which has certain responsibilities and prerogatives, within certain limits.
Some are chosen to serve on the Council of Elders, which is given certain responsibilities and prerogatives, within certain limits.


Some are chosen to be officers or operations managers, to whom are given certain responsibilities and prerogatives, within certain limits.
We were to all work together within that framework. Because of the abuses we witnessed in the final months we were part of the Worldwide Church of God, checks and balances were put in place in the structure of UCG to insure that no man or group of men could dominate and commandeer the organization and exert a destructive influence. But these checks and balances are not being respected or obeyed by the Council and the administration. Ongoing violations have destroyed the trust that is prerequisite for us to work together, and have negated their legitimacy.


Here are some examples of the violations under discussion:


1. When concerns were raised about the existence of a secret Internet forum which was conducted by some ministers to specifically allow them to criticize the Council and administration, and work to overturn decisions such as the relocation to Texas, the Council felt compelled to officially investigate. The result was a paper issued about “Private Discussion Groups” which cleared those involved of any wrong-doing. But the paper did not disclose that it was a member of the Council who originated and run the secret forum, and that other Council members participated. The paper was written in such a way that it gave the impression that the Council was completely impartial in the matter. This was a violation of the 9th commandment, in the spirit if not the letter. Two Council members, Clyde Kilough and Richard Thompson, resigned rather than have their names associated with such a dishonest paper.


2. Ephesians 5:11 states “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” When I informed the members of the GCE, through a posting on our Elders Forum (open to all elders), that Council members had originated and participated in the secret forum, the response from the Council was not explanation or repentance but punishment. I was threatened by the Council that my job was in danger for leaking “executive session” information (even though there had been no executive session meeting of the Council), and was placed on an “improvement plan” which was originally to have lasted for six months, but which was never lifted at all. This started almost a year and a half ago. I was further punished by being forbidden to fulfill any ministerial duties in English. I was forbidden even to give an opening or closing prayer in church services in any English-speaking areas though I was expected to quietly continue making trips to unstable parts of Africa. This open-ended punishment continued until the termination of my employment. This arbitrary punishment in order to cover the Council’s own dishonesty does not show a proper Christian approach to say the least.


3. Mr. Leon Walker, an elder of over 50 years of faithful service, was fired and replaced as Regional Director in a most abrupt manner without due process being followed, and in violation of a number of provisions in the Rules of Association. The Council then attempted to destroy Mr. Walker’s reputation through the publication of long papers claiming to publically document his guilt of all sorts of violations. The papers contained much material that was either totally false or severely distorted. The Church of God has never before published such offensive diatribes aimed at destroying the reputation of an individual minister and it is extremely shameful conduct. These actions violated the 6th and the 9th commandments.


4. Nearly 10 percent of our church membership, almost the entirety of the ministry and membership in Latin American were abruptly cut off from UCG with no explanation. This action violated not only our Rules of Association, but also basic Christian tenets of love, concern and providing needed assistance to fellow Christians. Some members were so disillusioned by the treatment their area received that they have stopped coming to services altogether. This is a serious responsibility according to Matthew 18:6-7: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!”


I realize that those of us who have left UCG are being accused of causing offense to little ones, but that is a different scenario. The Council took direct action against the members and ministry in Latin America: they cut them off with no explanation. This is what caused the offense there: aggressive action. We who leave UCG now are taking no action against anyone, we’re simply saying “This is offensive to God and man; I won’t be a part of it any longer.” We refuse to accept the exclusion of innocent brethren and ministers, which the Council attempted to require of us.


5. When church pastor Jack Hendren explained to members in his area the false nature of the accusations against Mr. Walker, he was ordered to appear before Council delegates. He was informed that he had to support the Council in what it had done in regard to Mr. Walker and to agree to the suspension of an elder in his area who also maintained that Mr. Walker had been unfairly treated. When he stated he could not do so in good conscience, he was fired. This is the Council demanding that ministers violate their consciences or face termination.


6. The behavior of a family in Chile became an issue when it was learned that their family-owned school remained open for business on the Sabbath (Friday evening after sunset) and on certain Holy Days. This is the family of Mrs. Mario Seiglie, wife of a current Council member. The church President and the Chairman of the Council published a “white paper” titled “How do members of the United Church of God observe the Sabbath Day?” In claiming to give doctrinal instruction on the topic, the paper stated the family did not violate the Sabbath by having their employees work on the Sabbath and Holy Days. This paper did not go through the required doctrinal review prior to publication, and repeated protests by the Doctrine Committee of the Council were ignored for three weeks. The Doctrine Committee by policy must review all material of a doctrinal nature. The paper was finally withdrawn from the Church website, with the explanation that it had been posted too quickly. Months later, the Council finally did state that members should not have employees work for them on the Sabbath, but the white paper has never been repudiated and no statement of rejection or apology has been issued for it.


7. A similar “white paper” was published, titled “Fasting, Prayer and the Will of God.” This paper was written to defend the behavior of elders, including Council members. After the initial decision to relocate the office to Texas, which was preceded by a Church-wide day of fasting and prayer, these elders almost immediately began an effort to overturn the decision. This caused concern and upset among quite a number of elders who felt they had asked, through fasting and prayer, for God to guide the decision. The white paper was a rather muddled defense of the effort to rescind the decision to move, by claiming that fasting and prayer don’t really allow Christians to know God’s will. This represented a substantial change in our teaching about fasting. It is still posted and public in spite of not having been reviewed by the Doctrine Committee, and in spite of protests by the Doctrine Committee.


8. When Mr. Larry Salyer, a respected minister with over 40 years of experience, explained to members in his congregations that there were doctrinal problems in the two white papers, he was suspended and ultimately, fired for “speaking against the Council.


9. It has been documented that the Council has excluded some of its members from discussions and decisions. Some Council members were not informed that discussions would be held, and decisions were reached outside of official meetings without the participation of all members. This is highly illegal.


10. All three corporate officers placed an item on the General Conference of Elders agenda for 2010. The item was the proposal of forming a GCE task force to examine our governing structure and possibly suggest improvements to the GCE for its consideration. Bylaw 7.9.2 states that any one officer may place an item on the agenda, but the Council intervened and removed the item, claiming it violated the Bylaws and the Council’s authority. Several lawyers have stated that it did not violate the Bylaws but the Council removed it anyway.


There are many other issues and violations of internal rules and the law of God. As stated above, where there is repentance there is forgiveness. Groups of elders have gone to the Council and administration numerous times to bring to their attention violations of men’s law and God’s law. But in every case, these pleas for action and redress have been rejected out of hand. We have gone to the Council and administration numerous times in the spirit of Matthew 18.


Matthew 18:15-17 states “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”


In response to brothers in the ministry coming to them humbly with sincere concerns over sin, they have not responded in a spirit of humility and receptiveness, but rather in a spirit of “exercising dominion” (i.e. Matthew 20:25), claiming that their authority as Council members precludes them having to attend to these concerns. Paul told Timothy “we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully” (1Timothy 1:8). Laws and rules can either be used properly or they can be misused and distorted. The Council and administration have been misusing rules and laws to the point of outright violation. And they suspend, expel and fire those who will not support their abuses.


I have reached the conclusion that the attitude and approach displayed by the current Council and administration is not that of seeking the will of God in submission to His law, but rather seeking their own will, and using selected provisions of human documents as justification. This will be a spiritual danger to any who continue to follow them. 2 Corinthians 6:14 warns “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?” I believe the above examples among many others prove that, though they claim otherwise, the current leadership of UCG is practicing lawlessness. This is why I’m convinced it is no longer fitting or right to remain part of the United Church of God, an International Association.
I hope this clarifies why I have taken the actions I have and why I believe it is time to leave UCG. Of course each of us must act on his or her personal conviction and conscience, and we will all give account before our Maker, so I certainly think no
ill of those who wait or make a different choice. I'm glad you're investigating for yourself so you can make an informed decision.


Very sincerely,
Joel Meeker

Harold Rhodes

Dear Brethren,

Thursday evening, December 30, 2010, I resigned from the corporate body of the United Church of God, an International Association.  In no way am I resigning as a minister of Jesus Christ.  I have been a faithful minister of Christ for over 41 years – following and supporting the human leaders of the Church, as they followed Christ’s example; (I Cor. 11:1).

Examples of my conflict with promising unquestioning loyalty to the administration is laid out in the three documents, What Really Happened in Latin America?, What Are The Real Issues? and What Were The Real Efforts to Seek Reconciliation? (available upon request).

As a shepherd, my responsibility first and foremost, is to feed and protect the flock of God.  If I remain silent about tainted food and fouled water being distributed to the sheep of God, in order to promote peace and harmony in God’s congregations that I pastor, I prove myself to be a hireling and only interested in peace among men (Ezek. 34).  Truth sometimes brings conflict.  Despite the uproar caused by Christ when He spoke the truth, true disciples had peace with God.  

I want to share with you an interesting quote by Dr. Roger W. Sapp.  Dr. Sapp was an Army chaplain who taught leadership skills to commissioned and non-commissioned officers.  In one of his writings titled – Honoring the Truth-Teller – he states the following: “… Often in an organization, whether it is a local church, a business, a denomination, or a fellowship of churches, loyalty becomes the overriding value and begins to overcome truthfulness.  This is often revealed in private words, actions and attitudes rather than the official position of the organization.  The leaders of an organization may say that they value truthfulness but reveal in their actions that this is not really so.”

The apostle Paul chose truth over harmony when writing to the Corinthians about immoral behavior.  He incited godly disharmony when he later corrected them for accepting and putting up with a different spirit, those whom he defined as deceitful workers.  A member of the Council and Administration commented to me recently that, “a different spirit has entered the Church”.  I told him I certainly agreed.

Dealing with disharmony and standing up for what is right is a necessary part of growing in the character of Jesus Christ.  In fact, Paul said, there must be divisions among us so that those who are approved are recognized (I Cor. 11:19).

I personally do not claim perfect behavior or excellent wisdom in my every approach.  I ask for your forgiveness for anything I’ve done or said that is not a representation of the mind of Christ.  Like the apostle Paul said, I have not already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that which Christ Jesus has also laid on me (Philippians 3:12-14).  I hope and pray that you will do the same.

On a personal note, as all of you know, I was in three different hospitals flat on my back, for nine months fighting for my life since February 1st of last year.  The first seven weeks were spent in ICU.  But thanks to your prayers, and the prayers of many of the brethren around the world, God has intervened and I’m now finally in a position, although still somewhat incapacitated, to actively serve you, as your pastor, once again.

Several months ago, I received a visit in the hospital by Mr. Victor Kubik, (manager of Ministerial and Member Services), my boss.  He asked me if there was anything he could do for me.  I responded by saying, “Yes, there are two things you can do for me – one, please continue to pray for my recovery, and two, don’t pull the plug on me – with God’s help, I believe I can make a comeback”.  I was told I had his prayers and any change in my status, such as retirement, would be my call.  I was visited by Mr. Kubik and Mr. Aaron Dean on December 16th, 2010.  My wife and I were told that the purpose of their visit was to retire me on December 31st 2010, two weeks later.  I felt it was no need, at that point, to remind them that United’s retirement policy states, that if the Church initiated my retirement they would give me 24-36 months to prepare for it.  I was given two weeks.  They stated the reason was a financial one since the income was down.  I told them I had already received notice from the Church’s insurance company that they would no longer cover me after January 31 of 2011.  Therefore, I was in the process of setting up my Medicare Part B plus an Advantage Program to cover the rest, so I would not be a financial burden to the Church.  This seemed to make no difference.  I was surprised and pointed out that I had not planned to retire and besides, I had already made out the speaking schedule for the local church areas for January and February of 2011, and I was on it.  

Moreover, while I was in the hospital, the Administration offered my job to two different ministers, who turned it down because they knew I was planning to return to active service.  One of them contacted me after I was home and asked was I aware of this.  I said no one had talked to me at all; that’s cold.

As an employee, I can no longer support the current Council or Administration because of their actions, based on God’s standards and scriptural principles.

Loree and I have appreciated the many friendships we have formed over the past 17 years, and have counted it a privilege to serve you, the brethren in this part of the country.  We are both deeply saddened by the events unfolding in the United Church of God.  May God guide you and sustain you in these difficult and challenging times.

We will be here to serve those who wish to be associated with our new organization – the Church of God; a Worldwide Association.  We will let those of you who would like to know, the  locations and times for local church services as soon as we can make those arrangements.

With deep love and respect,

Harold and Loree Rhodes

Chris Moen

MY LETTER TO OUR BRETHREN      JAN. 2nd, 2011.

Dear Brethren of Mansfield and Canton congregations,

In October, 2010 I began researching both sides of the arguments regarding the current crisis of the United Church of God leadership. On December 4th, 2010 I was one of 57 elders who signed an appeal letter to the President, Mr. Luker, in hopes to preserve our UCG church organization intact without a separation.

The appeal letter stated this position: “We have supported the governmental system agreed upon in 1995 and this letter is a confirmation of working within that system. Our deepest hope is the complete healing and the effective continuation of the UCG.”

The appeal letter stated this goal: “The workable—and what we believe is biblical—pathway to proper functioning as a church… is an open…face-to-face meeting between current and past leaders of the organization for the purpose of identifying and removing the obstructions that impede the function of the United Church of God.”

By December 13th, it appeared that an impasse in efforts to find reconciliation among our leadership had occurred, and that a separation was inevitable. The resulting separation we are seeing is an issue of not being able to walk together since there is no agreement. (Amos 3:3).

This period of time will be extremely difficult for our brethren, as they try to figure out what has just happened in our beloved organization. In my church announcements yesterday I expressed that at this point in the crisis in UCG, every member will be personally affected regardless of whether I--your pastor--stay or depart.

As of today, with deep love and affection for all of you, I’m sharing my personal thoughts with you. I will be resigning from United Church of God effective today.

My reasons are reasons of conscience. Some brethren may be very upset with Angela and me for resigning from UCG, but in the long run let’s all hope there is a higher purpose that God will fulfill for the good of the Church of God and for all of us. Mr. Denny Luker said in his recent sermon to the Winter Family Weekend audience (Dec. 25th) regarding the separation, “if we keep our eyes on Jesus Christ as the head, something good will come out of all this.” And he said, “we are not anyone’s enemies here (in this crisis).”
Mr. Luker also said, “I don’t blame any of my brothers in Christ; Satan is the author of this (crisis). “I have said to the ministry, if you cannot in good conscience support this present Council of Elders or my presidency, if you feel for some reason that we are so bad or so wrong, that we are incompetent, that we’ve disqualified ourselves, that we’re unrighteous, or whatever, if you cannot support us for whatever reasons may be, then my recommendation would be to do the honorable thing and resign.”

Like many of you, I had been praying daily that no separation would occur, but if a separation would still occur, that God would give me a clear understanding on what to do, and how to still guard the gospel and shepherd the brethren. This has been a daunting task for me, but yesterday I came to a peaceful decision.

I wish to thank so many of you for your words of encouragement and support these past few months. They’ve been helpful to me as I kept vigil, watching for a “Jordan River” to open before me to show me the path more clearly. The greatest concern in my heart has been in preserving the security of the brethren within Mansfield and Canton, and to reassure the brethren that I will continue to shepherd God’s flock that has been entrusted to my care. I have not changed in any way as the person you have come to know.

Our Mansfield and Canton congregations have brought Angela and me enormous joy. We have seen the growth, and shared in the beautiful peace and fellowship each Sabbath. With you, we have comforted those who have suffered loss and cheered in welcoming the newborn. We have shared blessings in Mansfield and Canton that other congregations only long for.

I don’t want to sway the membership either way, but I do pray and encourage each of you to seek more understanding about the most recent issues on both sides, so as to be able to make careful judgments. This will still take some time, perhaps weeks or months. By growing through this process, I believe you and I are preparing to discern even greater spiritual challenges ahead, and to eventually judge angels. Even with my separation I still believe the “battle” is not the brethren’s at this time, but God’s. For some time, I encouraged our brethren not to take any “sides” or make any “moves” unless and until things become very clear, out in the open, and where fruits can be evaluated. In good and clear conscience, keeping all these things in mind, I felt a need to separate from the organization. Indeed we still pray for our leaders, as Paul sought prayers for the ministry:

“…brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you…” (2 Thess 3:1)

“Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.” (Heb 13:18)

I believe, as Mr. Denny Luker also stated in a recent sermon, that we are all still one body of Christ, if we have God’s Holy Spirit. Let’s all hope that in the future we come to focus on the things that we have in common rather than the things that divide us. This should be true for members in any group—United Church of God, the emerging new church organization, or multiple other Church of God groups who share our values.

Brethren, please know that as your pastor, I am not leaving my calling as an ordained minister of Jesus Christ. This calling is understood to be directly from God, and God willing, I will continue to fulfill this calling for many years to come. I will not try to influence or persuade any UCG brethren to change their affiliation. I will not criticize UCG, its leadership or its members. I separate in peace with HUGE gratitude for all that United Church of God has done for Angela and me, and with HUGE gratitude for the way all of you have treated us and welcomed us from the beginning, six years ago. I will continue to be available if any wish to ask me questions about what has brought us to this point, without disparaging any individuals. I am not far removed from any of you. I will ALWAYS be available should you wish to reach me.

I have offered to help with any details to affect a smooth transition for the remaining Mansfield and Canton, OH congregations.

God’s mercy on all of us, and God’s kingdom come!

In Christian love,
Chris & Angela Moen

Michael Machin

 

December 27, 2010

Dear Mr. Holladay,
Your letter to me dated December 21, 2010 states, “As a result of your recent actions the honest thing for you to do is to resign as an Elder and member of the General Conference of Elders of the United Church of God.”

I appreciate your bringing up the important and much discussed word “HONEST”. I have honestly attempted to assist scores of other ministers solve the divide and conflict in UCG. This resembles the tragedy of a house on fire. In this case the house is the UCG which caught fire a few years ago and since then many firemen (ministers and other concerned members) have tried to have access to extinguish the flames and save our family and home. Those in control have refused to allow them in, calling them “rebellious”, “divisive” and “power hungry”. The most polite name we’ve been called is “uninformed”. None of those names apply to any of the concerned men that I know. WHO IS BEING HONEST?

In a letter dated December 24, 2010 Mr. Victor Kubik requests that I not be allowed to speak in a UCG church service. Quote, “He is an officer in a competing church that will be drawing members from UCG.” I would think everyone in leadership would be concerned for the family members fleeing the burning house. Leadership has been beseeched over and over again to let the firefighters in and by no means has every attempt been made public. We did not cause the fire but we do hear the cries for help from inside the house.

It is insulting when the word “COMPETING” is used in talking about the brethren. No one should be COMPETING for the members. They are not a BUSINESS and it is telling that Church leadership would look at them that way! They have the same Father in heaven and the same relations with God any other called out one has. Surely you have noticed a great many members are not waiting on the ministry-AKA firefighters. They are mature and dedicated to God and are fleeing the burning house without assistance. Mr. Luker says over and over there are dear and precious members in other houses and he loves them all. And so he should. Why would someone call it competing to build a home for those escaping a burning house when the doorkeepers themselves won’t allow the firemen access?

It is also stated in your letter that I have violated Biblical standards, the Code of Ethics for the ministry and the criteria for an elder to be in good standing in the United Church of God. Have we really fallen to this low point? I was even copied on the Criteria for an elder to be in good standing for my information. God’s Word was always to be above the By Laws and Constitution. I am sure glad Phinehas didn’t wait till he got the “all’s clear” from those above him before he acted on behalf of the Children of Israel and stopped the plague that had already killed 24,000. How many more casualties must we be responsible for?
 
I have no choice but to resign. The UCG is being destroyed. Many are looking for a new house that needs builders and I am honored to be among the ministers and members who are setting their hands to this work, His Work.

I look forward to the day we will work together unified with God, the Father and Jesus Christ.

Respectfully,

Michael Machin

Gregory L. Sargent

To Whom It May Concern:

Today [December 17, 2010], I resigned from the corporate body of the United Church of God.

The reason I was asked to resign is because I have supported the good faith efforts to address and to solve the divide and conflict in which UCG now finds itself. The administration of the United Church of God considers my stand as not supporting UCG management. This is a sad irony. Unless I am allowed to use the exact same criteria I have used for over 44 years in the ministry—following and supporting leaders as they follow Christ’s example, I have no other recourse except to resign.

Examples of my conflict with promising unquestioning loyalty to the administration is laid out in the three documents, What Really Happened in Latin America?, What Are The Real Issues? and What Were The Real Efforts To Seek Reconciliation? (available on request).

My responsibility as a shepherd is to feed and protect the flock. If I remain silent about tainted food being distributed to God’s flock in order to promote peace and harmony in God’s congregation that I pastor, I prove myself to be a hireling and only interested in peace among men. Truth sometimes brings conflict. Despite the uproar caused by Christ when He spoke the truth, true disciples had peace with God.

We are reminded that in April of 1995, a leader tried to intimidate those he called rebels by stating, “In congregations where the pastors have taught faithfully the focus on Jesus Christ…there is little discontent and turmoil. But in congregations where pastors have avoided following headquarters…there is turmoil.”

As we all learned then, living in peace with a contented but deceived congregation was not our main goal. We chose contentment with godliness. Thus we parted ways.

The apostle Paul chose truth over harmony when writing to the Corinthians about immoral behavior. He incited godly disharmony when he later corrected them for accepting and putting up with a different spirit, those whom he defined as deceitful workers.

Dealing with disharmony and standing up for what is right is a necessary part of growing in the character of Jesus Christ. In fact, there must be divisions among us so that those who are approved are recognized (1 Cor. 11:19).

In all this, I do not claim perfect behavior or excellent wisdom in my every approach. I ask for forgiveness for any less than fitting demonstrations of the mind of Christ in me. I can truly say with the apostle Paul that I have not already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid on me (Philippians 3:12).

I will continue to labor in God’s Work until the mind of Christ is formed in all of us (Gal. 4:19) in order that God’s Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies and an inheritance into the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s Name,

Gregory L. Sargent

Jonathan R. Pinelli

November 26, 2010

Dear Mr. Luker,

It is with the heaviest of heart that I must write this letter to you. I write to you as the highest human level in the administration of the United Church of God.

Clearly for some time now, the United Church of God, (UCG), has experienced a turbulent, troubling, ungodly atmosphere. When did it all start? Some say it was with the removal of the former administration. Those who foster this idea seem to think that the former administration has fomented this rebellion against the Council of Elders and the current administration and thus we find ourselves in the current climate within the organization. I do not believe that to be true in any way, shape or form.

With your selection as the new president of UCG, many saw a chance for healing to take place; that the bitter attitudes that some have had over the former administration’s decisions and philosophy would have the salve of a Denny Luker to heal the division. Understandably and most assuredly first and foremost it is God’s Holy Spirit that must lead us as members of the body of Christ to heal, but many put their faith in you to lead this spiritual healing. Sadly what many of us, myself included have witnessed is not a healing, but rather a “doubling down” on rhetoric and actions that speak to further division rather then healing and spiritual vision to look onward and upward. This has saddened me and surprised me. I expected so much more of a man of fifty years dedicated to serving God’s people.

Over the past seven months, I have found little that I could agree with in terms of your administration and the Council of Elders in words, deeds and actions. Your letters profess love and outgoing concern for the brethren, as do the letters from the Council of Elders, but the actions are clearly not in line with your words or Council’s words. Some examples:

Removal of the Director of Latin America who has served God’s people for 50+ years. Lies and cover-ups told in the aftermath to make it appear as if Leon Walker was the “bad guy” in a situation that was clearly “botched” start to finish. The level of character assassination against Leon Walker has been epic. Never in my forty eight years growing up in the Church have I seen this level of vilifying of a spiritual brother. This includes our time spent under the Worldwide Church of God after Mr. Armstrong’s death. The administration and Council of Elders of the United Church of God should thank God that Leon Walker is a converted man. Many of us believe that he could take this organization to the cleaners for defamation of character.

A minister of Jesus Christ who has dedicated 50+ years of his life deserves much better – both from a human standpoint but more importantly as a spiritual brother. The actions of this church organization with regards to this situation have been very, very far from the love that so many of the Council and you profess. This is not an example of love!!

Appeal for Latin America.

167 members of the General Conference of Elders out of concern for the members and ministry of Latin America, our spiritual brothers and sisters, signed an appeal to ask that the Council of Elders look at this matter, reevaluate and seek the path that we all have been called to; reconciliation. The response? On August 6, 2010 an official letter was sent out. The first paragraph expresses the fact that the Council and Administration have sought to have reconciliation. The letter then goes on to further chastise Leon Walker and other Latin American ministers. This is not the hallmark of reconciliation; this is not love.

White papers entitled “Observing The Sabbath” and “Fasting, Prayer and the Will of God”.

These papers do not agree and mesh with our doctrinal teachings and fundamental beliefs. These papers have not been submitted and vetted through our approved doctrinal processes. These were processes that were put in place so as to protect and preserve our doctrines. You may not have written these papers, nor had any say in there editorial review however as president you are responsible for your operations managers. You have allowed the media department of the Church to post these papers on line on our web site. Therefore the Council of Elders and you have condoned their content by allowing them to be viewed by members and the world at large.

These are only three examples of a myriad of doctrinal, ethical and moral failings of an organization that was founded on many different principles in May 1995 then those we now see. You were at those meetings Mr. Luker. What has happened to you? Why do you not see the demise of our founding principles? Where is the passion and the fire that I saw when you as a Regional Pastor in WCG stood up to Joe Tkach, Jr., Mike Feazel, et al.? I am so very sad at what I have witnessed since you took the office of president. It has not been the Dennis Luker that I saw in 1995.

My responsibilities and duties as a shepherd of God’s people are clear. Those are defined through the Bible as you already know. Feeding and tending God’s sheep has been a tremendous blessing. I thank God that I have been called to care for His people. 

I also have duties and responsibilities as an employee of the United Church of God. However, when the duties and responsibilities of the physical organization are in conflict with my spiritual duties as a shepherd, something has to give. I CANNOT NOR WILL I COMPROMISE THOSE SPIRITUAL DUTIES.

Therefore, with my signature affixed to this letter, I tender my resignation as a pastor in the full time employment of the United Church of God, (Effective November 27, 2010 6:00 p.m., MST). I do not resign from the ordination to the ministry that God has given me. I intend to fulfill my calling as a minister of Jesus Christ.

I regret having to make this decision, but the Council of Elders and your Administration make it necessary at this time. I wish no ill will towards any member of the Council of Elders, Administration or you. I will continue to pray that God deal with us all, myself included, in His mercy and bring us to the perfection of His son Jesus Christ not just in words but in deeds and actions.

Respectfully,

Jonathan R. Pinelli

Paul Carter

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dear Denny,

I have known you and some of the men on the council and administration for many years. I now write to you the president of the United Church of God an International Association, with regret for the position we find ourselves in as an organization and body. When hired into the full time ministry of the United Church of God, I never imagined the Church or myself coming to a day like this.

For many years now the ministry of the United Church of God has not been walking together. It is clear that the differences go back long before the recent troubles began, but have escalated to a devastating degree, as men who longed for something different whatever that might be, finally achieved positions on the council or in the administration. These men, in a very short time, have proved they do not have the leadership ability to serve the people of God in a righteous manner. We are told in Matthew we can know individuals by their fruits. The fruits of these men have been shown, and are quite evident, and quite disheartening.

Not one of us can claim to be a perfect leader, and yet all of us as pastors were called to dedicate our lives to the work, and to the people of God. Some members of the current council and administration have shown by their own fruits they do not care for the people of God. Proverbs 26:28 tells us “A lying tongue hates those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth works ruin.” The lack of concern became even more apparent with Latin America. Some council members have spoken very openly that Latin Americans will keep the Sabbath and have Feast sites of their own; they just won’t be with us. They ARE our church family! It is a disgrace how faithful members of the church and ministry have been treated. Council and administration, and some of those who support them, have continued to strive for power, pride, their own agendas, and even their own interpretations of doctrine, or the application of doctrine in the church, without adhering to our own policies.

The explanation of the crisis we find ourselves in has been “twisted” when expressed to the members. Some are told it is over “people” wanting one man rule. Others are told that it is over people wanting their former positions back. Still others are told that this is because of the move to Texas, when in truth and reality the Council and administration know otherwise. That is deceit.

You and others as leaders have accused many in the ministry of being “rebels,” “Korah’s rebellion,” and “wolves.” I have also been personally accused of “undermining the faith of the brethren.” For what reason? I have been told it is for not supporting the council. Yet it is simply for no other reasons than the following:

  • I as a pastor and elder in good standing will not accept unethical behavior such as what has been displayed by the CoE, and the administration over the last few years.
  • I and other ministers are labeled “rebellious” because 167 elders in good standing, wrote and appeal to the Council humbly asking for reconciliation with Latin America.
  • Nearly 60 elders in good standing, and other smaller groups of elders, wrote appeals to the Council humbly asking that they address major concerns, and unethical behavior in the government of the church.
  • Elders and members have shown concern for doctrinal integrity when the approved teachings of the church have been compromised. White papers written by men other than you and Melvin Rhodes were made available to the church without going through the doctrinal committee, and without recognizing that the doctrine (teaching) was contrary to what had been previously approved and taught. Melvin Rhodes and you signed your names to these, and thereby show your support of such papers.
  • I have a responsibility to teach and to warn the flock, yet I am labeled as rebellious and undermining in doing so.

Does labeling men as “rebellious” and denying their requests for reconciliation, and asking that the CoE honestly look at unethical behavior, make individuals rebels? These are simply men who will not give up on personal and doctrinal integrity and hold fast to the truth!

Members of the Council and administration have refused to answer letters of concerns from members and ministers across the U.S. yet they simply tell those concerned that they have answered questions, and will not answer any more. They have refused meetings and resolutions presented to them to address the current situation. We have followed the principle over and over of going to our brother. The message is very clear that “our brother will not hear us.”

Well-respected men such as Leon Walker and others have had their names slandered by deceitful words, twisted reports, and direct lies. Other faithful men have been accused of things by false witnesses who speak lies. This is something that God hates. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

The list of reasons why I cannot support the current Council and administration goes on and on. The last three years have been recorded in detail, and the substantiated evidence is almost surreal.

I was ordained, not hired, to be a shepherd. My responsibilities and duties as a shepherd are given to me through Gods Word, as you yourself also know. I have been called to feed and care for God’s sheep, and it is a tremendous blessing and privilege to do so.

As an employee of the United Church of God, I have responsibilities to my employer. I have carried out those responsibilities and duties with diligence. My first responsibility is to God and His people, and sadly my responsibilities as an employee is now in direct conflict with my calling, and the responsibilities given to me by God as a shepherd.

As an employee, I can no longer support the current Council or administration because of their actions, based on Gods standards and scriptural principles. I hereby tender my resignation as an employee of the United Church of God AIA effective immediately. My signature is affixed to this letter. I in no way resign as a minister of Jesus Christ.

I pray that God will grant repentance to you, the Council of Elders, and the current administration of the United Church of God. I will continue to pray that God will deal with all of us, including myself, with mercy as we strive to become more like Him and operate according to His way of life, and His government.

Respectfully,

Paul Carter

Eduardo Hernandez

Open letter to the Council of Elders and Administration of the United Church of God, An International Association

Bogotá, November 18, 2010

It is with great sadness that I write this letter.

Since June I have been hoping and working for a process of reconciliation for me and the other ministers in Latin America. Mr. Luker’s letter of November 11th to all the Latin American ministers, in which he gives them an ultimatum, finally makes his intentions clear and reveals what the Council really thought of this entire process. That letter has nothing to do with what you, the President of the Church and the Council, had told me and had given me to believe would happen regarding Latin America. In fact, it goes completely against everything we supposedly agreed to during my visit to the home office on September 13-15 of this year.

During the last few months I have tried to honor and respect the letter of appeal that 168 ministers sent to the Council, requesting an opportunity for reconciliation with the ministers and members from Latin America. Their courageous and firm stand was important and significant and it has been constantly on my mind. And before God, with the support of the congregations I have the privilege of serving, we have been seeking a fair opportunity for everyone, but in the end it never came.

While it is true that Mr. Luker did not send that same letter to me, as part of the reconciliation process he and the Council demanded that I submit to Mr. Mario Seiglie and speak with him to resolve the situation. I suddenly find myself in the same situation as on June 23rd of this year when the Council, against all sensible judgment, wisdom, and every ethical principle, sent him as their representative in order to set things straight. The fruit of that decision is plain to see: the Work that God has carried out in Latin America through the United Church of God these past 15 years has been divided and splintered; there is chaos and confusion.

I have great satisfaction before God of having fought with the armor of light. Today I finally know that no process of reconciliation is possible because there is no desire on the part of the Council and the administration for that to occur.

It causes me great pain to have to resign as a minister of the United Church of God. Fifteen years ago it looked like a refuge, a place of peace, a remnant of the Church of God, the “pillar and ground of the truth,” in the midst of the tremendous chaos that existed at that time.

I know for certain that God will have mercy on his people, on the small and the humble, and that he will provide a place where we will be able to “worship him in spirit and in truth.” I hope that he will soon hear our cry and intervene on behalf of his people.

Sincerely,

Eduardo Hernández

Ken Giese

 Dear Brethren and Friends,

Today, Thursday, November 4, 2010, I officially tendered my resignation as an employee of the United Church of God. I can no longer in good conscience support the current administration or the overall direction of the council majority. Since much of my concern has to do with administrative and employee issues, I prefer that the details of my departure remain confidential so as not to cause further trauma, stress and embarrassment to the individuals involved, their family members or our local congregations (Reno, NV and Sacramento, CA), which have already been through several years of trial and adversity. My wife and I, as well as the members of these congregations, would appreciate your prayers as we face the challenges that lie ahead. I respectfully request that you avoid rumors or public speculation about my resignation, these two congregations or other individuals involved. It will serve no good purpose. Please exercise patience and restraint as we all try to deal with

these trying and turbulent times. Should it become necessary for me to provide additional information about my situation, I will do so. Thank you for your care, your concern and your cooperation.

Sincerely,

Ken and Kathy Giese

November 3, 2010

Dear Brethren,

I am writing to offer you a brief update on the events of last weekend. In a meeting with Messrs. Luker and Kubik on Sunday evening, October 31st, they informed us that, from their perspective, the Reno and Sacramento congregations were divided over my perceived lack of support for the Council of Elders. Consequently, they offered to transfer us out of the area. After praying and fasting about this situation, my wife and I regret to inform you that I have resigned from employment with the United Church of God, effective immediately. I simply can no longer in good conscience remain a part of this organization.

Although our future plans are uncertain, we will remain here for the time being. We have appreciated the many friendships we have formed over the past two years and have counted it a privilege to serve the brethren in this beautiful part of the country.

We are both deeply saddened by the events unfolding in the United Church of God. May God guide you and sustain you in these difficult and challenging times.

With deep love and respect,

Ken and Kathy Giese 

AN OPEN LETTER TO MEMBERS AND MINISTERS OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF GOD

November 26, 2010

Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness and grave concern that I write to you all regarding the current crisis gripping the United Church of God. Clearly, we are a house divided against itself and in danger of disintegrating. We have been told that there is a rebellion in our midst, led by wolves who are causing division and seeking to draw brethren to themselves in an effort to “start their own church”. Our current leadership continues to accuse dedicated pastors with decades of faithful service and experience of leading an organized conspiracy, while at the same time, dismissing some 2,000 Latin American brethren and their pastors without due process, demonizing anyone who would question their authority and demanding the support of members and ministers alike despite their egregious misconduct. The income of the United Church of God is dropping precipitously, morale is sinking and we are about to lose what we have all worked together to build under Christ’s direction for fifteen years. Enough is enough.

As many of you know, on November 4, 2010, I resigned from my responsibilities as an employed pastor of two UCG congregations (Reno, NV and Sacramento, CA) due to the fact that I could no longer in good conscience support the actions and decisions of the current Council of Elders majority or their appointed administrators. As I wrote to Dennis Luker and Victor Kubik, despite the fact that I resigned from employment, I wanted to retain my membership in the United Church of God as well as my status as a credentialed elder in UCG in hopes that the current Council of Elders and our administrators would accept responsibility for this debacle and seek reconciliation and peace rather than confrontation and war. Sadly, they have chosen the latter.

As one who has been identified as a wolf who is sowing discord, I would like to set the record straight. The last thing I or any of my fellow elders want to do is leave the United Church of God and start another organization. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. We (some current COE members, former administrators, regional pastors, concerned elders and members) have been working diligently behind the scenes to bring the current Council of Elders majority and our administrators to the table for frank discussions on our current state of affairs as well as exploring methods and means whereby we could all work together to bring reconciliation and peace, but our efforts have been consistently rebuffed and ridiculed. We desperately want to remain a part of the United Church of God, but we are being falsely accused and forced out by those who have clearly disqualified themselves as our spiritual leaders.

Therefore, I am calling upon the General Conference of Elders to step up and demand that the current Council of Elders and their appointed administrators be held accountable for bringing the United Church of God to the point of imminent disintegration. I encourage GCE members to fulfill their responsibility as the only “members” of the corporation – The United Church of God, an International Association. I encourage the GCE to call for a special meeting for the purpose of restructuring the organization with new leadership. Our current leaders have proven themselves incapable of correcting the problems that are clearly facing us all.

Please do not let the cries of “foul” deter you from taking these appropriate and necessary steps. If these actions do not take place, the United Church of God has little chance of surviving intact.

In light of my personal circumstances and the fact that roughly one-half of the Sacramento UCG congregation has stopped attending, I feel compelled to offer a place of refuge for myself as well as those members who feel they have been forced out of the United Church of God. At the same time, I would love to remain a member of UCG as well as a credentialed elder in UCG and work with the entire GCE in taking the necessary steps noted above, but I cannot in good conscience do so. Therefore, I hereby resign as a member of the United Church of God and as a member of the General Conference of Elders, effective immediately. This coming Sabbath, November 27th, I plan to meet with other brethren who no longer feel they can affiliate with the United Church of God. My purpose is not to start a church . . . I am attempting to provide a place of refuge in hopes that we can eventually return to fellowship in a healthy, vibrant and Godly United Church of God.

May God bless and guide us all in these difficult and challenging times.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Giese

Explanation Of My "Refusal" To Transfer

December 1, 2010

Since my resignation from employment with the United Church of God on November 4, 2010, various UCG ministers and administrators have expressed their disappointment over my "refusal" to accept the offer of a transfer to the three-church circuit (Mobile, Geneva and Pensacola) currently covered by Harold Rhodes, a long-time pastor and close personal friend of mine. Harold is continuing his recovery from the ravages of a flesh-eating bacterial infection that kept him hospitalized and flat on his back for almost nine months. He has endured the pain of multiple skin grafts over that period of time and is currently continuing his long and arduous recovery.

It has consistently been Harold's hope to return to serve those three congregations following his recovery. Several months ago, Victor Kubik assured Harold that any decision to retire or diminish his role in serving those three congregations would be his to make. In fact, Victor Kubik updated the entire ministry on Harold's condition in the most recent issue of The Ministerial Newsletter and Journal (November 24, 2010).

It should also be noted that Harold was completely unaware of his circuit being offered to me at the conclusion of Mr. Luker's and Mr. Kubik's recent visit to Sacramento (Sabbath, October 30th).

Here are two quotes from an e-mail message I received from Vic Kubik on Friday, November 5th (the day after I resigned from employment with UCG):

"Your characterization that we asked you to move because you didn't support the Council was not really accurate. Why would we ask you to go elsewhere if you were not supportive of us? Rather, the real reason is the continuously divided church after many visits with no end in sight. Our hope was that your taking another assignment, a fresh start to all, would be a solution. We did have the very needy circuit available in Alabama/Florida that has been without a pastor going on a year."

Please consider the following:

My concern over recent COE and administrative decisions and directives was well known to both Messrs. Luker and Kubik. However, I made a concerted effort to share my specific concerns privately with the COE and administration and NOT share them with my congregations. Essentially, I have the same question that Mr. Kubik posed in the above quote: Why would they ask me to go elsewhere if I was not supportive of them in the context of the total loyalty they appear to be demanding?

A "fresh start" was the solution arrived at by previous UCG administrators almost two and one-half years ago. After a year of sending in various pastors and administrators to solve the issues revolving around the previous pastor of the Reno and Sacramento congregations, Ministerial Services asked me to move here to resolve the situation

In my opinion, in the opinion of three out of four of the elders serving these congregations and in the opinion of over one-half of the Sacramento congregation, the conflict here could have been resolved had the current administration chosen to support me as pastor and hold the previous pastor accountable for his misconduct.

During their three-day visit to Sacramento, the current administration managed to accomplish the following: thoroughly discredit the former administration's efforts (of over four years) to resolve the issues present here, permanently divide these two congregations and leave at least one-half of the Sacramento congregation without a shepherd, endorse the inappropriate behavior of the former pastor and make it impossible for me to continue as the pastor of these two congregations.

Please ask yourself what you would have done, given these circumstances. To accept the proposed "transfer" was completely unacceptable as was the administration's handling of this entire situation. I chose to resign.

Kenneth Giese

Arnold Mendez

Dear Friends,

On the morning July 15th, I received a phone call from Victor Kubik the newly appointed head of Ministerial Service informing me that I had been relieved of all my ministerial duties and that I was suspended. He intended to take my case before the Council of Elders and have my credentials removed at some later time.

The reason given for this action was because I was supportive of the Churches of God in Latin America and did not support the COE treatment of them, including the sending of Mario Seglie into the Latin American area. Mr. Seglie has an obvious conflict of interest in Latin America, which is well known to all. I did not support their termination of Saul Langarica, minister and head of the Chilean national council, Larry Roybal, minister and head of the Mexican national council, and Leon Walker Regional minister and director of the Hispanic Area. The direct reason was that some on the Council of Elders and Mr. Kubik, considered my posting on the various Face Book Forums, especially the United We Stand Face Book forum to be inappropriate. My posting were largely made up of reposting of public domain documents and emails that I had been personally sent.

Below are letters and emails that were sent to me and about me during the last few weeks. I am posting them here with no editorializing; I think they speak for themselves. They are being made public so that you may see how someone who disagrees is treated by this present administration.

The only response that I have received to the various requests I have made in the correspondence sent to the Council of Elders was the one sentence email I received from the Secretary acknowledging that my appeal email had been received.

I look forward to a time when the Council of Elders will be made up of a majority of men who properly guide the church or that God in his infinite wisdom will take the appropriate action to open the eyes of (some of) the present members of the Council of Elders and grant them repentance.

You will be happy to know that my duty as an elder of the Church of God continues.

All of this material may be free distributed.

_________________________

Email written to Jack Hendren and copied to Dennis Luker

On Jul 15, 2010, at 9:52 AM, UCG Kubik wrote:

Hello Jack,

With great regret I called Arnold Mendez this morning and relieved him of his elders duties. The Council of Elders will have to decide about his credentials. I also suspended him as a member, as well.

Arnold has persisted to write on public Facebook groups and disseminate false information which creates discord. I had already warned him not to do that several weeks back, but he has defied my request and continued.

Victor Kubik

___________

July 18, 2010

Arnold Mendez

222 Pearse Dr.

Corpus Christi, Texas 78415-4720

Re: Confirmation of Being Relieved of Duties as Elder in UCGIA

Dear Arnold,

This is a follow-up on our telephone conversation last Thursday, July 15, when I was obliged to relieve you of your duties as an elder in United Church of God, an International Association ("UCGIA") for reasons discussed. It is my intention to bring your case before the Council of Elders to seek further disciplinary action up to and including the revocation or your credentials as an elder in the Church unless you give us reason to believe that such actions has become unnecessary.

You are clearly supporting as well as asking other members to support another Church of God group. Along with a former elder and former Regional Pastor of UCGIA, Leon Walker, the group has decided to server their ties with UCGIA in Latin America. While you have the freedom to follow any group of men you like, doing so while still holding yourself out as an elder and member in UCGIA and being one who is under an obligation to promote unity in the Church, not division, is unacceptable.

If you feel you must support another denomination or organization and are not happy in UCGIA, I invite your to resign as an elder with UCGIA, leave, and join that other group. I am not desirous of requesting the revocation of your UCGIA credential, but an elder in UCGIA is expected to serve and promote the purpose, mission, goals and values of UCGIA, not those of another organization in competition with it.

Sincerely,

United Church of God, an International Association

By: Signed Victor Kubik

Operations Manager, Ministerial Services

______________________

August 12, 2010

Mr. Arnold Mendez

222 Pearse Dr.

Corpus Christi, TX 78415-4720

Dear Mr. Mendez:

As Secretary to the Council of Elders, I must inform you that the Council of Elders has removed you from the membership of the General Conference of Elders of the United Church of God, an International Association. In addition your ministerial credentials with the United Church of God, an International Association, have been revoked. This action of the Council was taken on August 10, 2010, in accordance with Article 4, Section 4.5 of the Constitution of the Untied Church of God.

In accordance with Article 4, Section 4.5.2, of the Constitution of the United Church of God, an International Association, you may appeal this decision within twenty-one (21) days of the date of this letter. I wish you all the best in the future,

Respectfully,

Signed Gerald Seelig

Secretary

C: Victor Kubik, Jim Servido

(Certified Mail, return receipt requested)

Graemme Marshall

Some have asked why I have resigned as a Pastor in the United Church of God. It began three years ago. On the fateful day that a Rescind ballot overthrew our agreed upon consensus governance – UCG was set to become a political organization. Here are some of the reasons:

  1. Overthrow of governance: There was fasting and prayer seeking God’s Will on the Denton ballot. Despite a majority for an agreed consensus it was later rescinded. Do the fruits these past two years show God has blessed such an overturn? Or was governance cast aside? The confusion that reigns shows UCG no longer has a majority of Spirit-led governance.
  2. Rejection of appeals for UCG governance to reform: Ministerial ‘pillars’ of our 40 year Church history have labored in attempts to restore the organization to its founding principles of integrity, honesty, transparency, and accountability – to no avail. In this last year there have been appeals from former administrators, the letter of 54 elders that became 60, individual members making appeals, then the expulsion of 2,800 Latin American members and Ministry without regard to our governing documents and Bylaws, or respect for International Rules of Association – which do not permit interference in another country’s administration. And the last straw, the Letter of Appeal to restore the Latin American brethren and ministry, signed by 167 Pastors and Elders worldwide, soundly castigated.
  3. Lawbreaking: It is voiced that the problems are just administration, not doctrinal. Not for me. Bearing false witness and lying breaks the commandments; (spiritual) murder breaks the commandments by character assassination and evil speaking in the public arena against longtime faithful ministry; stealing good men’s reputations and assailing their character breaks the commandments; being a Gentile authoritarian ruler is against Christ’s instruction on leadership; violating UCG Bylaws and Rules of Association is lawbreaking. And James 2:10 says if you break one commandment – you are guilty of breaking them all. This is commandment breaking, this is doctrinal, and it is sin.
  4. Creating confusion: The ‘little ones’ worldwide have no access to know the difference (James 3:16), of which God is not the author (1 Corinthians 14:33).

In good faith and conscience before God we could not sit by and remain as if all is well and nothing has changed. We left WCG in ’95 and considered it was no longer God’s Church. We leave UCG similarly and await whatever might emerge as a new organization that not only is pledged to integrity, honesty, transparency, and accountability – but actually will do it. When Christ is pictured in Isaiah 11:5 as having a girdle of Righteousness with a belt of faithfulness – this is our standard. The Captain of our salvation requires we not only seek the Kingdom of God, but also ‘His righteousness’ (Matthew 6:33). Many of us will no doubt be faced with the choice of following the Captain no matter the price to pay, or the sacrifice it takes. We trust God to provide (Genesis 22) and sustain those who do make that choice.

Graemme and Lynn Marshall, Ottawa, Canada