Why Seiglie: One Possible UCG Timeline Leading Up to the Sabbath Letter

It should be obvious by now that there are more than two sides to this whole mess.  Good luck finding the “right side”, the one unstained by mistakes.  However, later this week, we might reconsider something a little different than the noise.

Here is my understanding of the sequence of some events concerning UCG in Latin America as believed to be the case by some within the current leadership of the COE.  Can I affirmatively say for certainty this is how all of them believe?  Of course not.  However, this is how my friend presented it to me plus my own commentary.

While you may or may not believe the totality of what was given to me, it may still give you something to pause and think about.  I know it gave me something to think about.  At very least, it did answer a couple of my questions.

A Long Time Ago In a Place Far Away

First of all, many years ago, a woman was faced with a real hardship when she was left alone with her children.  She began babysitting in order to earn money, and she eventually became successful enough to start a daycare center.  Each year, she was able to expand the facility.  My hat is off to someone who takes such initiative to better their situation.

Exactly when she became part of the Church is not clear, but it was after starting the daycare.  Exactly when she remarried also is not available, but it was into Mario Seiglie’s extended family.

In 1995, Seiglie was pastor in Chile.  The subject of the Sabbath never came up during this time.

In November 2001, Saul Langarica took over the position of pastor and president of UCG in Chile.  In other words, he was head of that area for about 8.5 years until removed earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Seiglie’s relatives were given the task of translating various UCG documents into Spanish for distribution in the area.  For many years, not a word was spoken about Sabbath observance.  In fact, an unusual observation was made that the local spokesman club had met a few times at the daycare, so it isn’t like the pastor didn’t know where they worked.

However, there eventually did come up some type of difficulty which resulted in Langarica asking them not to come to services for a while.  While I do not know the specifics (and, really, should I ask someone to break confidentiality?), I have been told that it was not over Sabbath observance.  Whatever, it was, it was severe enough for Clyde Kilough and Jack Hendren to make a special trip to see what was going on about 2 – 3 years ago.

Old Guard and the Sabbath?

Let me repeat, Clyde Kilough and Jack Hendren (who has now started his own church), two of the old guard, made a trip to Latin America to sort out this little dispute.  Up until then, whatever the problem was, the subject of the Sabbath was not brought up.  However, suddenly, now that they were there, it was suddenly presented as an issue.

Well, the short story is that the family was reinstated, and all seemed to be a bit calmer – for a while anyhow.

There are various parties it seems who want to cause the current COE problems.  The timing of these events is suspicious in that allegations were brought up against various parties in increasing ferocity as the old guard began to slip out of power.

The Buchanan Connection

Somewhere along the line, in comes David Buchanan and his version of events.  Like a few other allegations, the current COE did not even know about them until someone sent a member a link to a website with a petition for all of the COE members to resign.  The petition was written by Buchanan and the website setup by Arnold Mendez, Jr, according to my friend.

One interesting side note is that wherever Abigail Cartwright is, there is David Buchanan’s letter.  What their relationship might be is speculative, but it is interesting nonetheless.

In spite of members of the COE meeting with Buchanan, there has been very little to back up his most serious accusation, that of bloc voting.  Basically, he states he has his sources and that he believes his sources more than the COE.

Saul Langarica began translating the documents written by David Buchanan and Eric Jones and distributing them all the while not distributing the correspondences that UCG’s home office sent out.

Controlling Communication

But, what better way to squelch official communication than to pull the plug on the translations?  So, once again, a certain family found themselves suspended from services, although this time it was allegedly over the Sabbath.

Whatever you may think of events that came afterward, I find it interesting that allegedly:

  • The Sabbath was not an issue 15 years ago.
  • The Sabbath was not an issue 9 years ago.
  • It seemed to have only became an issue around the time of the rescission of the move to Texas, and even then it was more or less thrown onto the top of some other alleged wrongdoings.

Given that Kilough was probably operating in his role of president and not necessarily as a council member, it isn’t even obvious whether or not the COE even knew the details of what was going on.

In fact, for what it’s worth, it seems that there was a lot going on that this present COE wasn’t aware of.

If there are going to be accusations that this “liberal” new guard council are watering down the Sabbath and holy day teachings and try to use Sieglie’s relatives as examples, it would appear to be downright hypocrisy if any of this is true.

At any rate, let’s keep moving forward.  It’s only starting to get ugly.

The Poisoned Well

With a pastor over Chile allegedly poisoning the waters, I can only imagine the toxic atmosphere.  Apparently, the COE finally started getting wind of some of what was going on, but it doesn’t appear that the seriousness of it all was yet evident.  Their lack of knowledge was not going to work in their favor.

A meeting was setup with Leon Walker, apparently on Tuesday, 15 June 2010 (according to AC’s website).  Whatever Walker told Roy Holladay apparently satisfied him.  However, when Holladay told the COE that Walker was going on a trip, they flat out told him it could not wait and to get him back.

Whatever intermittent conversations they may have had, it appears that Holladay did not convey the urgency of Walker not going on the trip, Walker underestimated the urgency of the request or Walker decided to ignore the request.  Of course, by 17 June, Walker had already left on his trip.  Holladay continued to try to contact him.

“You’ve Got to Do Something – Now”

What had happened in the meantime is that one of Seiglie’s relatives had contacted him.  As best as I can tell, he was told something along the lines of, “You’ve got to do something – now.”  There was a meeting scheduled for Thursday evening, which was unusual in and of itself.  Sometimes, they may have Wednesday Bible studies, but it was evident that this was to be a different type of meeting.

Well, it does turn out that there are some assets that UCG owns in Chile.  There are a few vehicles and the church building.  It was evident there was a coup in the offing, and there were assets at stake.  Someone had to go down there and go quickly – preferably, someone with experience in the area, someone who knew the culture and the language and someone who would look out for the interests of the church.  That list was very short.  When those are the requirements, Seiglie was the only logical choice.

Well, there was chaos after that.  Who was shouting the loudest seems to depend upon who is telling the story.  However, a couple of oddities:

  • Some story about someone being drunk and climbing over a fence.  There only seems to be one source for this one, but it seems to get a lot of press.
  • Larry Roybal was there to greet Seiglie, it seems.  What is interesting about this is that I didn’t realize Chile and Mexico were so close together that you could just saunter over to one from the other.

I have to question the ease with which Roybal’s presence is brushed off by some.  Frankly, I have heard him speak, and I was surprised to learn he was in the middle of all of this.  However, if there was no organized effort going on by Walker and regional pastors in the area, then why was he there?  Seems highly suspicious under the circumstances.

Why Seiglie?

So, to answer my question, “Why send Mario Seiglie?” the answer comes down to “Because he was there, and he is qualified.”  Sometimes, you have to go with what you’ve got.  And, of course, the entire in-law, Sabbath, etc., probably wasn’t even at the top of their minds, if at all on their minds, at the time.  It was a coup, and swift action was needed.

Of course, there still are questions about should he remain there, what of his family and is it in the best interest of the church to leave things as is.

Then again, there is due process, right?  I mean, that is what some of the L.A. ministers claim they want for themselves, so should they deprive a certain family the same right?

Or, is it really just about making the COE look unfair?  Is it still about vilifying the family in order to make the COE look bad?  Can the protests ring hollow after considering that they are willing to shun anyone who even sits down to meet with the COE or the president?

Finally, in trying to stand up for the family, did the UCG top leadership give critics exactly what they want?  Perhaps even more than they could have dared asked for?

Yes, what about that Sabbath letter, anyhow?…  Tomorrow.


  1. Interesting account. I still want to know about the sabbath letter. Seems to me that is the most important issue here.

  2. Thanks for your information John. However as you acknowledge, it is hard to verify much of it.

    The real answer for me is for the COE to start fighting fire with fire. The other side is spreading all sorts of innuendo, some of which is sticking. The only way to deal with this is to open up the files and put it all out there. Somehow there seems to be a reluctance to openly attack fellow ministers. We are above all this attitude. You don’t need to get personal and dirty, just put out the facts and supporting documents. A simple calendar time line with supporting documents so that we can all see what is happening would suffice.

    Bring this to a head otherwise it will bleed the organization for months or years. I have had firsthand experience in a church area where they left it too long to deal with the rouge minister. Clear doctrinal issues were involved. In the end the inevitable separation occurred. But by the time it happened a large portion of the congregation had been converted to his side.

  3. >> But, what better way to squelch official communication than to pull the plug on the translations? <<

    I've been told there's precedent for this, from the WCG days.

    When The Changes occurred in 1994-95, Dutch Regional Director Bram de Bree refused to disclose them to the Dutch-speaking members. This is what WCG members told me at the 1996 "Euro-Feast" in the Eastern Netherlands. By that Feast, Herr de Bree had disappeared and the New Covenant teaching was in place.

    As I write this, I've discovered Bram de Bree died in October.

  4. The "rouge minister". Wow that would have really divided the congregation. How did the minister think he could get away with wearing makeup? lol

  5. John, I'm a bit confused. You have seemed to flip-flopped over the last few posts and have now become influenced by your "new friend". He is not telling you the whole story. The family was doing other things that they were suspended for and Walker says he did not know about the sabbath issue way back when.

    You say that the sabbath was not an issue 15 or 9 years ago. Why does that even matter? Are you saying that the family was properly keeping the sabbath by what they were doing? So now church members can operate a business on the sabbath as long as you can get away with it for 15 or 9 years and nobody says anything?

    And now we have UCG "reviewing the matter". What does that even mean? What is there to review? There are doctrinal study papers that you can easily find on the UCG web site showing that this activity is in violation of our current doctrines.

  6. @Anonymous: Because the Sabbath is not the issue, but rather a decoy. Both the old and new guard have been complicit in this. Pretty shady behavior for an organization that is supposed to hold the Sabbath as one of its core values.

    Having said that, if someone appeals a decision, don't they get a "fair shake"? Why continue all of the vitrol against the family in the meantime? The meeting to discuss it, from what I understand, is supposed to be in December.

    If a split occurs, will it be after this event?

    Meanwhile, if the current UCG leadership is serious about maintaining doctrine, they could do more to show it. But, that's for tomorrow's post.

  7. You said:
    "First of all, many years ago, a woman was faced with a real hardship when she was left alone with her children. She began babysitting in order to earn money, and she eventually became successful enough to start a daycare center. Each year, she was able to expand the facility. My hat is off to someone who takes such initiative to better their situation.

    Exactly when she became part of the Church is not clear, but it was after starting the daycare. Exactly when she remarried also is not available, but it was into Mario Seiglie’s extended family."

    I'm not sure where you got this information, but it seems to be at odds with the first "sabbath letter" put out by Denny. That letter said:

    "Regarding this specific situation, here is an overview: A member family in Chile founded an
    infant day-care business in 1997. They observed the weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Days before that time, and have continued to do so since then."

    The family further explains:

    "In 1997 we decided to start a day care center with just 10 children and my wife quit her job working in a public school. We run the day care center, which now has 300 children (from 1 to 7 years old), only from Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m."

    They further explain:
    "Through the years, we didn’t discuss the issue of the Holy Days while Mr. Mario Seiglie was our pastor, and neither with Saul Langarica for the first six years of his tenure and we
    just rested and regularly attended all the Sabbaths and Holy Days. We thought it was a
    private matter on how we resolved this issue."

  8. @Anonymous: Obviously, someone got some bad information. Certainly, the accounts are at odds with each other. For example, was she or was she not a school teacher when she decided to quit and start a daycare center? Was she or was she not married then?

    Since the Sabbath paper isn't worth the electrons that display the characters on the screen, I think it is equally likely that either account could be wrong. Then again, maybe neither one is correct.

  9. So nice to hear this side of things, it has been my gut feeling on this whole situation. I feel you are on to something. Sadly I think it is all about power and control. We are not talking about the original problems , it has now been changed to doctrinal issues. A topic that stirs up so much emotion. Only God knows the people's hearts involved and I pray it will all be straighten out and made clear soon. It is killing us little ones to listen to all of this. I feel like a kid caught in the middle of divoracing parents and they are fighting over who gets custody of me. So sad if only both sides would open their eyes and see the big picture of the affect it is having on the flock. Keep praying and do what you can do to help heal the rif in your own circle. I agree with this letter, I began by talking to someone who viewed the whole situation differently then myself. I am closer to that person because we had that difficult conversation. We were able to talk peacefully, and remain respectful to one another. Christians ought to be blowing the world away with how we handle difficult situations in a Church of God. We are deeply failing, but I encourage everyone to do your part to be a healer.