So, what’s really going on here? A few would like to know.
This morning, I read with interest Mr Holladay’s take on things on Inside United: Realtime:
Further Information Regarding Council Withdrawal of Officers Resolution:
Inquiries have been coming in from several elders asking for more details or specific reasons why the Council of Elders felt it necessary to withdraw the “resolution concerning governance” from the Call and Notice packet for this year’s General Conference of Elders.
I have asked our legal counsel to prepare a statement giving that explanation in response to those inquiries, which should be ready next week.
Chairman, Council of Elders
[underlining my emphasis]
Um, “legal counsel”? There were lawyers in Jesus’ day, and it seems He wasn’t all that happy with them. What is definitely not clear is if this is the internal legal counsel or external. If external, this could be a big deal for some of the members. However, at this point, no one is saying.
OK, concerning, maybe even depressing, but not a cause for alarm yet, right? In reality I want to be optimistic about it all, but bringing in lawyers for “explanations” do not raise my comfort level!
Well, it seems that some people don’t like some of the Facebook groups that have sprung up, either. In particular, I am looking at United Church of God – current crisis? and I see “There are no admins left in this group!” It is pretty sad that some cannot get together to try to hash things out. Whoever went to the trouble of getting her account yanked, twice even, needs to quit being a coward and grow up. Adults may have to vent occasionally, but at least they try to reason things out at some point. Children cannot tolerate someone else’s opinion.
Thanks to J at Shadows of WCG Next Generation for the tip-off, BTW.
On the positive side, that page has been replaced by UCG Current Crisis. It has on it a document that has filled in a little of the picture. One thing that has been missing for me is how did some of these events transpire? I mean, we all know about Texas. We know there was a resolution recently to review governance, but why all the turmoil? Well, this new blog has one piece of the puzzle in “Response to resolution”.
At very least, we can see the other side of the story. Frankly, between this and the sudden urge to use attorneys, the current COE’s side isn’t looking so good at the moment.
It should be noted that a lot of the emotion is on the side of those supporting the resigned ministers. Perhaps this is the reason why.
What still is nagging at me, though, is why the big deal from the COE’s side? When you look through the proposal and you look through the email, it definitely appears that it is a simple request for a group to create a task force. It does not even create the task force, it creates a group to create a task force. It does not require that anyone adopt any changes. All recommendations can be rejected in the end by all concerned.
In any event, this year’s GCE is not too far away, and there will likely be a very difficult time for all if some of this isn’t explained by then.
It should be repeated, though, that while there are some very upset members, there also is a realization that what is transpiring is political. There may or may not be ideological differences, there may or may not be philosophical differences, but the differences are not theological. In spite of the turmoil, most of the members I have had contact with are not overly concerned. In fact, as one said, “I lived through 1995. This is not the same.”
I am a little surprised that with all the division, and the attention the division is getting, the UCG ministry has managed to be mostly quiet about what the real core issues are. Maybe somebody is explaining it clearly, but I have not found the explanation.
What are the core issues at stake? Is it matter of how much money is spent on public proclamation? Is it a matter of how much autonomy local pastors have? Is it proposed or expected doctrinal changes? It can't all be about Texas or personality issues.
AWRegan asked me to remove their comment so they can make corrections to it. Thanks.
As Shadows of WCG blogger J has already pointed out, it appears that it will be an outside attorney that will draft the message. Specifically, in response to Facebook question at approx 11:00 today from Joanna Bradford: "I have been trying to figure out how the Resolution to Establish a Governance Review Task Force…", Joel Meeker responded, "We'll have to wait now for the formal explanation by the attorney the Council hired to give his opinion, in order to understand the reasons behind that decision."
The comment can still be found on United Church of God – current crisis?.
While they are at it, how about explaining the reasons for hiring outside attorneys?
"Whoever went to the trouble of getting her account yanked, twice even, needs to quit being a coward and grow up. Adults may have to vent occasionally, but at least they try to reason things out at some point. Children cannot tolerate someone else’s opinion."
I have absolutely no idea what you are trying to say here. Can you explain? Everyone seems to be assuming some kind of sinister meaning behind the page having no admin. Maybe there is no admin to ensure that there is no possibility of censorship on the page (except if a poster removes their own comment)?
@shortfriction: You wrote: "I have absolutely no idea what you are trying to say here. Can you explain?"
The comments on the FB page pretty much speak for themselves. The admin was there and then disappeared, comments and all. That can only happen if the actual account is removed.
"Everyone seems to be assuming some kind of sinister meaning behind the page having no admin. Maybe there is no admin to ensure that there is no possibility of censorship on the page (except if a poster removes their own comment)?"
Like I said, the comments pretty much say it all. It was a surprise to not have an admin. However, according to the FB help page, the situation is actually the reverse in that it allows for more abuse:
If you are no longer a member of the group, you will need to rejoin it and request admin status from the current admin. If the group has no current admin, you or any other member will be able to take the admin position by clicking "Become Admin" on the right side of the group's page.
You wondered "What still is nagging at me, though, is why the big deal from the COE’s side?"
Perhaps I can shed some light on that, as I happened to have been the original author of the provision of the UCG bylaws which stipulates that any UCG officer can submit matters directly for consideration by the GCE, bypassing the standard Council process.
May I also add that it is my understanding that INTENT is considered to be highly significant in the accurate interpretation of legal documents, so let the record state that the INTENT from the beginning of that officer submission provision was to provide a WHISTLEBLOWER provision to act in the event of COE dysfunction/corruption. (After all, we had already experienced a few men corrupting truth; hence, couldn't some sort of dysfunction/corruption potentially happen among the group of 12; and in such an event, who would be better placed to be aware of any dysfunction/corruption than its officers?)
Not to defend Steve Andrews on any other count, however in 1998, when he, as (1) UCG Treasurer, (2) a licensed attorney, and (3) the primary author of the UCG Bylaws, quite properly utilized this officer whistleblower provision to submit resolutions directly to the GCE, the COE cried illegal and foul – all the while disseminating inaccuracies and distortions regarding the submitted resolutions and their potential impact on UCG, claiming reliance upon the COE's "legal counsel."
Unfortunately, one of the mixed blessings of UCG's governance is that the COE has absolute authority to interpret its Bylaws, which literally means that no matter what the Bylaws’ provisions may actually say, the COE can interpret that they mean whatever the COE wants them to. If you doubt this, consult your attorney.
On paper, the GCE has sole authority to interpret the UCG Constitution, but that "fact" did not even slow down the COE in the 1998 Steve Andrews case, which included resolution(s) pertaining to UCG’s Constitution.
By and large, in 1998, the GCE placed its trust in the COE, rolled over and played dead.
In the current conflict, I am blessed to have only minimal knowledge. I cannot begin to guess who (if any) are the "good guys." However, I must say that all I am hearing relayed from the COE rings astoundingly familiar.
Thus, based upon events then and now, I am sadly convicted that any unhealthy Council of Elders will resent this whistleblower provision as a threat to its power, and will NEVER WILLINGLY allow any officer to utilize that process. It seems that the only way it could be effectively utilized would be by sufficient outrage expressed by the GCE or by lay members of the Church.
The truth is that only obedience to God through the sincere exercise of God's Spirit can make any form of government function properly – only obedience to God through the sincere exercise of God's Spirit can bring the peace and unity to God's Church which honors Him.
My prayers remain with all concerned.
Correction on my last comment. FB no longer allows admins for "open" groups once all have left, according to their FAQs.
Like I said, the comments pretty much say it all.
There are so many comments on the FB crisis page, I'm not quite sure what you specifically mean. Most of the comments I have seen about the missing admin and deleted posts reek of paranoia to me. People seem to have the idea that someone in the COE or someone acting on their behalf can delete comments they don't agree with. Obviously, and appropriately, that is the case on the official UCG page. However, for the FB "crisis" page if there is no admin, no-one can delete posts except the poster. I suppose if someone posts on the wall and others comment, then the OP deletes their post then the comments go, too. I expect this would have happened many times when people have in retrospect regretted something they said.
I have often wondered how to understand the situation where there are so many COGs, many of them existing only because of an inability of those men 'in charge' to agree. Many of us in the younger generations are pretty unimpressed by it all. Perhaps, though, this scenario has emboldened members to defend truth and transparency where historically they could have been silenced. Anyone holding a position of leadership who is not genuinely seeking the best interest of the body of Jesus Christ should take note: the membership won't stand for nonsense. The truth can be found in plenty of "organisations" these days.
Having said that, I've not yet seen any good evidence to think ill of any in the UCG leadership. I suspect there's some poor perception management by the COE and some (understandable) paranoia among some of the membership conspiring to make a mountain out of a mole-hill. Time will tell, and Jesus Christ will not allow anything to prevail against His body.
As for seeking legal counsel, that's the age we live in. I can see how it might be unwise for UCG to make a statement on the issues without consulting independent legal experts so first. I for one wouldn't want to see tithes being wasted on a stupid lawsuit because someone didn't have the wisdom to present the facts carefully.
@shortfriction: You wrote, "There are so many comments on the FB crisis page, I'm not quite sure what you specifically mean. Most of the comments I have seen about the missing admin and deleted posts reek of paranoia to me."
OK, but that paranoia doesn't change what I wrote. The admin posts are missing because the admin is missing. When the account was removed, so were the admin posts and links to documents (a few of which I saw before the admin was removed). That means either the admin account was removed by the admin him/herself (voluntary removal) or it was removed by FB (involuntary removal).
So, I'm not sure what you don't understand, because:
1. People don't normally go to the trouble to start groups and post items only to voluntarily take all of them down 2 days later. The group was essentially started off by posting documents, which have since been reposted at the new site.
2. People don't normally start alternative websites to post the same information after being removed from a previous similar area for a similar reason unless it was involuntary. Otherwise, it is twice the effort.
3. FB doesn't come looking for you. Someone has to report you.
In any event, rather than preserving the integrity of the group postings, removal of the admin diminishes them. It removes the very "founding documents" (if you will) rather than preserve them.
Now, do I think the COE is sitting around with nothing better to do than to look up groups on FB and remove alleged TOS violators? I'm trying to find where I said that. However, just because a few paranoid people seem to believe that doesn't change any of the above. What is evident, though, is someone apparently did report the alleged TOS violation.
Now, if you still have a valid reason given the above for me to not believe that someone reported the group admin because they did not like idea of either the group or its perceived purpose, I'd certainly like to hear it. If it was, I stand by my opinion that it was a childish attempt to squash discussion.
As far as the UCG leadership goes, my only real complaint at this point is the lack of transparency. Part of that lack of transparency is evidenced by requiring outside lawyers to draft letter to the membership. Please note that it isn't even to draft letters to those outside of the church organization, but those within.
Are some making a mountain out of a molehill? Certainly. I used that same exact phrase a few articles ago when this first started.
"As for seeking legal counsel, that's the age we live in. I can see how it might be unwise for UCG to make a statement on the issues without consulting independent legal experts so first. I for one wouldn't want to see tithes being wasted on a stupid lawsuit because someone didn't have the wisdom to present the facts carefully."
If you believe that getting a lawyer's opinion can stop a lawsuit, then you really must be in a younger generation. Sadly, you cannot stop anyone from suing for anything. All you can do is make it difficult and expensive enough for them to win that they don't even try. If someone has enough money, though, there's little you can do to keep them from trying.
Okay, now I understand what you were saying. I thought you were saying that the administrator was being childish by choosing to remove herself from the group. If something in the group violated a FB rule in some way, I assumed the whole group would be pulled.
As for consulting lawyers, it can most certainly reduce the likelihood of getting sued. As an example only (I am not suggesting this is the case): imagine if the issue revolves around additional information about the individuals responsible for the resolution and their motives which, in context, made the resolution potentially risky to the organisation. I could imagine scenarios where just coming out and telling the members that information could end in a libel suit.
@shortfriction: Yeah, FB can be confusing at times, and since they change it all the time, not even people who use it really understand it. 🙂
OK, let's try the lawyer thing another way: According to what I can gather from the United News, Larry Darden is the church counsel, correct? He gets a salary, correct? So, even from a purely practical point of view, why is he getting a salary if outside legal advice is needed when it is essentially an internal matter?
The issue for most that I have seen, although I suppose you could find some if you looked hard enough, is not that an attorney's advice was sought. It's that it was an outside attorney's advice that was sought for what in most organizations be a pretty routine matter unless there is something to walk on eggshells about.
This is very difficult in my mind to square against 1Co 6:1-6.
Ministers are not doing what they are preaching to us that is the heresy of the pharisee every one today is consume by getting power and forgetting the real purpose for their calling and the command that God has given to them is that feeding the flock? or glorifying God? NO they have bought him to an open shame not even calling on us to help fight the battle with prayer and fasting come on guys gird up your loins and get with the program
"The truth is that only obedience to God through the sincere exercise of God's Spirit can make any form of government function properly…"
AWRegan, if you mean that without obedience to God, even the right form of governance will not work, I agree. But obedience to God requires submission to God's teaching in the Bible about government, and any form of governance that is not consistent with that teaching will never work.
What we are seeing play out here is the normal fruits of how government by balloting works. Anyone notice any similarities between what is going on in UCG and what is going on in the United States Congress?
This is very difficult in my mind to square against 1Co 6:1-6
I have always read this scripture as being about taking brethren to court, failing to follow the Christian principles of going to your brother. I see that as entirely different to getting advice on how to appropriately communicate information where there is a high risk. And perhaps our in-house attorney referred them externally because it was beyond his expertise.