United Church of God (UCG) Loses 9 Ministers in One Month

Even on the road, bad news travels fast.  I cannot find the original on the AC website, but COG Writer Dr Robert Thiel wrote “UCG loses 8 ministers in November” on the blog Church of God News.  It appears it was written before the resignation of Jon Pinelli, which someone emailed me about.  So, that makes 9 so far this month.

I have a question for the UCG leadership: How long can this continue and UCG still have a positive impact?  On feeding the flock?  On spreading the Gospel?  On anything?

I’ve met Jon Pinelli, and he seemed like a decent enough man.  It was obvious that he was conscientious and hard working.  His resignation letter strikes me as one of heartache and inner turmoil over the internal struggles within the church.  While these qualities alone don’t make a good shepherd, it really stands in opposition to the constant barrage of messages about “rebellious” spirits and so on.

Maybe he has me fooled.  Like I said, I met him, which is a long way from knowing him.  However, I also have met his father.  Jon strikes me as a man much like his father – a man of integrity.

People are emailing me all the time these days.  They want to know what is going on.  They are concerned over what’s going on in Cincinnati.  They are concerned over Latin America.  They are concerned over the Sabbath in particular.

Well, if you really want to know what is going on, Satan has been allowed in the church.  There is no point in sugar-coating it.  People can point the fingers all day at each other (Isa 58, anyone?), but it is evident that some will cling to attitudes of “us” vs “them” no matter what.  Satan loves to polarize people!  Unfortunately, the polarization will undoubtedly continue, as reasonable people would have resolved most, if not all, of the issues by now.

Yes, I do think there are unreasonable people on at least 3 fronts.  Unfortunately, the vast majority are caught in-between these groups wondering why the leaders of these groups don’t use God’s Holy Spirit to settle matters.

So, what’s going on is the gradual disintegration of what was UCG.  People will continue to be challenged to submit or else, and a few have chosen the “or else” rather than violate their conscience.  From the time that Roy Holladay took over, it became evident that political and legal maneuvering would become the tactic du jour.  Having attorneys look over statements to members (not outsiders, but members) was only the first step in ensuring that a political (not a righteous) foothold was gained in the organization.  From then on out, every challenge has been met with name calling, hostility and legal red tape unprecedented in my memory of the church.

Jesus promised His Church would prevail.  He did not promise it would be easy.  He did not promise the church would not be attacked from without.  He did not promise the church would not be attacked from within.  He did not promise a large, mammoth mega-church.  In short, He did not promise a rose garden.

In the meantime, I believe that God is strengthening those who would seek His will.  I’m still betting that by February, the chickens will come home to roost.  However, it could take until June before something occurs to force people to choose a path.

On the other hand, God could allow UCG to just continue gradually dissolving.  At least a split would mean a power base is established for a new organization.  However, a gradual coalescing of strong believers from the grass roots on up might make for a spiritually stronger church, albeit a smaller one.

Maybe that’s what is needed for the time of the end.

Ask yourself today: Who is teaching what the Bible says?  Who displays the attitude that Jesus had?  Who shows good fruits and not just talks the talk?

Wherever you see the fruit, there is God’s Spirit, no?


  1. I considered Dr. Thiel's headline misleading (which I guess means I consider yours misleading as well). And we all should consider the source of his data.

    Two of the men on his list were "removed as Associate Senior Pastors" in Africa. That doesn't necessarily mean they quit or were fired. The shift in duties could be a cost-cutting move, as the consolidation of Regional Pastors was.

    Those "removed" ministers probably still have U.S. congregations to oversee — and admittedly, the other departures could mean they have more to do at home now.

    A.C. (can't help noticing those pseudonym initials) has counted Clyde Kilough as "removed" because he was forced out as UCG President — yet he still serves as a UCG Pastor in North Carolina. While some apparently think the other shoe will drop in his case, it hasn't happened yet.

    Bottom line: beware The Spinners –on all sides.

  2. John,

    When Denny Luker refers to wolves in United, I am sure he is only thinking of a few ministers at the very "top level" that are leading this"commotion." I wish he would make that clear but all of us are lacking in communication skills, especially when speaking. I know he used wolves in one of his letters as well. Perhaps he did clarify this in the letter. I would have to go back and read it.

    I'm sure Denny believes most of the ministers supporting this have simply been deceived. He probably believes, as I do, that even these top level ministers are deceived as well.

  3. Excellent points, Richard.

  4. @Jim Butler: I'm not sure that's what he meant.

    "Brethren, spiritual wolves are in our midst, and this now-open rebellion on the part of some demonstrates this fact. But even in the midst of a crisis created by some, we know with surety that our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, is firmly at the Head of His Church. He knows our hearts, and He knows more about this situation than any of us could as human beings."

    While "some" might indicate "a few" as you say, it doesn't appear to be directed only at top-level individuals. In fact, there are a few who have left or been forced to leave that are not what I would consider near the top.

    There are a lot of things I wish he would make clear. It seems to me to be at least 30% of the problem, but it is probably a lot higher.

  5. To clarify some.

    First, considering the level of the crisis, and the tone of the accusations, there must be some wolves on one side or the other.

    From my perspective, there is NO doubt that there are a few agaisnt the council of elders and current administration that have no desire to reconcile without the removal of same.

    As Tkach and gang were the wolves in WCG there are wolves in United.

    You seem to be assuming that those that have left or were forced out are ministers Luker is saying are wolves. Not necessarily true.

  6. @Jim: Actually, I wouldn't assume that wolves are only on one side. And, yes, it is very evident that some against the COE/Administration are not willing to reconcile. At the same time, there seems to be an administration that at least appears to believe that any criticism is an unwarranted attack and talks about submission — a lot. This scenario is why I believe that, after this length of time in particular, there will be no resolution except through a split, or perhaps a gradual exodus to other groups.

    "You seem to be assuming that those that have left or were forced out are ministers Luker is saying are wolves. Not necessarily true."

    That implies he still believes some to be in the organization, doesn't it? That essentially means the crisis is long from over then.

  7. I agree. I think a split of some magnitude, barring a miracle, is inevitable. There are at least 3 sides, probably more, to this. Things have transpired that seem to have riled up others that would normally be docile. It's not like we haven't had administrative turmoil before but this has gone beyond that and has raised a whole host of other issues. There's a lot of people with a lot of different dogs in this fight. It's not just on one or two fronts.

    I am now hearing of individuals I know that are no longer attending ucg and I think it was Ken Geise who in his letter talked about a precipitous drop in income. I think the income issue may be what drives this.

    The administration may decide it can not afford to keep ministers on the payroll that are none supportive and likely to exit anyway.

    To my knowledge home office has not recently made any reference to the income which leads me to believe there is some truth to Ken Geise's statement.

  8. My understanding is that Paul Carter, Ken G. and perhaps others are being kept on as minister by several of those who were congregants of UCG. those tithes are no longer going to UCG–and others have diverted their tithes to support Latin American brethren.
    I would imagine the income for UCG is dropping pretty fast.
    anony Jon

  9. This is true, Jon, and while doing this they are saying they are still part of United.

    In fact, Leon Walker in a recent letter, said that Mario Seigle was the one rebelling agaisnt United and the congregations Mario was visiting were NOT part of United.

    "As you know, Denny Luker sent a letter to the Spanish ministry still credentialed by UCG demanding that they choose between him or me—as though that was the issue. The letter contains many errors regarding this issue—including the concept that I have formed a group in competition with UCG. This is totally false. I have not formed any new group. I have visited with and spoken only before United Church of God congregations in Latin America, pastored by ministers still credentialed by UCG. However, Mario Seiglie has traveled to Latin America and formed groups in competition to the UCG congregations—contrary to the UCG Rules of Association."

    How's that for convoluted logic.

  10. @Jim: Agreed. He has also indicated that he was in the employ of UCG, but he is not accountable to either the COE or the President. I'm still trying to figure out how that works.

  11. Interesting to hear about UCG. My wife and I grew up in WCG, both from a very early age. We both went to Ambassador and spent a combined 60+ years of our lives in WCG.

    I think you sum the article up well: watch for fruit – I would clarify by adding a few examples like humility, mercy, self-control, etc.

    Watch out for those who trust in their obedience and righteousness (Luke 18:9). Seek out those who trust in Jesus Christ, and as a result obey, forgive and live a life of respect, love, kindness and good fruit.

  12. @Anonymous, re: Pinelli: There are several problems with what you wrote.

    1. It names names and places, yet it is from an anonymous source (notably yourself).

    2. You mention a public forum. Does it still exist? A link to the forum might be more appropriate than reprinting entire letters.

    3. It isn't clear (as a result of the above) that people have given permission for their names to appear in such a manner.

    In short, it isn't verifiable or traceable in the form you have given it to me, and even further harm could be the result.

    Furthermore, there is evidently a lot of emotion involved in what's being said, which brings to it a great deal of subjectivity. Just on the surface, the problem could be a classic one of one person minimizing his bad behavior while others are exaggerating it. The few facts, rather than vague categorizations, that are in the letters hardly show the degree of improper behavior being alleged. At the same time, even a perceived impropriety should have been dealt with, I would think. If that is the case (and I don't claim to know), that hardly touches on Pinelli's integrity.

  13. Anonymous wrote: "You lie…"

    Yeah, that's really grown up. After all, what better way to convice me than accuse me?

    Why? Because I want proof? You are making accusations, so the burden of proof is on you, not on me. Besides, one of your sources can only verify a controversy, not facts about if.

    Foaming at the mouth and HWAbashing are against the rules. There are plenty of places for that, but in reality, you can seek professional help for your anger problem.

  14. UCG the Laodicean church is in the proecss of being spued out. It is Because they spued out the prophet that was raised up from them, me. Acts 3:22-23. A new thing is going to the earth, Satan is being bruised by a woman at the heel of time (Gen 3:15), (Rev 12). This is proven by the true word now delivered (Rev 12:5) at http://thegoodtale.wordpress.com read all the evidence written before you make your final judgment. There is no need to be angry about anything for this website turns the hearts of all to the children of God. Love one another, forgive one another. His true word is now going to the world as witness.

  15. @val: Uh, you realize Ac 3:22-23 is a passage about Jesus, right? And, for that matter, so is Rev 12:5.