Several sites, including the AC site have reported even more losses amongst the UCG ministry this month. First, Ken Giese resigned last month from being a paid pastor, now he has turned in his badge completely, so to speak. It looks like half of his congregation might be going with him, according to “An Open Letter From Ken Giese”. In further developments, AC reports in its updated “Individuals who have resigned or been removed from their positions in the last year”, Jim Franks has resigned from the COE, and Ron Kelly has been removed from ministerial duties.
At this rate, I’m beginning to wonder if there even will be a “United Church of God, an International Association” by this time next year! The sad reality is that loss of membership and loss of income seem doomed to continue unless the present UCG leadership makes a visible concerted effort to reach out to those who have been offended.
Yes, I said that key word: “Offended”.
6But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! (Matthew 18:6-7, King James Version)
Words to think about.
"Offended" raises a good point that's been on my mind.
Political conservatives love to point fingers at "political correct words" among liberals. (In reality, it cuts both ways; "death tax" and "climate change" are GOP-created phrases.)
In UCG, we seem to have the opposite. "Sabbath conservatives" (if it's fair to coin such a phrase) are demanding other ministers say and do things their way – or else they're offended, and no longer seemed "please to dwell."
Of course, the conservatives would say they are the persecuted ones — with President Luker giving them a "choose ye this day whom ye shall serve" ultimatum in recent weeks.
My pastor gave a sermon on peace over the weekend — and he pointed out when differences arise, "someone has to yield." That's true in marriages, the workplace and even in the church.
The people in charge traditionally expect those not in charge to yield to them. That's certainly the tradition of COG "government" thinking.
By the way: an announcement during our service said UCG income currently is seven percent under budget. It's a drop, yes — but not that enormous.
"Pleased to dwell" is fine and good when the marital difficulty is what to have for dinner, where to move, etc. "Pleased to dwell" doesn't apply in cases of abuse.
2 Cor 6:14b is another element: "For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?"
There's a time to be "pleased to dwell", and a time to obey the fairly direct command in 2 Tim 3:5. Which time this is appears to be the debate.
John, I think you may have hit on something with “offended”. Proverbs has something interesting to say on this. Prov 18:19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle [ some translations “citadel”]. NKJV
The greatest offense comes from those close to us, our brothers in this case. We expect outsiders to not be on our side, but our brothers are meant to be with us. Once offended, an offended party can become like a castle or citadel under siege. Could it be that both sides are so offended that they have become like walled cities under siege? Completely insular in their thinking, unable to understand the other side. Unwilling to open their gates (minds) to the others view point.
Even in the tribulation the greatest offense comes from within, people betraying one another. Matt 24:9-10 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” NKJV
I wonder why they cannot have an Acts 15 like conference, as per the excellent sermon by Dr Ward that you recommend some weeks ago. An open recorded conference that we could all listen to. After all this is a very public matter, not some private individual sin thing. It could be chaired by someone both sides respect, or if there is no one left in this camp, even a professional outside moderator. Let everyone get their thoughts and offenses off their chests. Also this gives us members a chance to see what this is really about. No doubt we are going have to make some decisions if there is a split, which seems more likely every day, unless there is a circuit breaker.
The conference in Acts 15 was a circuit breaker over the very contentious issue of circumcision nearly 2,000 years ago and it worked. Why not try it again?
At this rate, I’m beginning to wonder if there even will be a “United Church of God, an International Association” by this time next year!
Sure there will be! The only question is HOW MANY of them will there be? Will the current UCG split into just a couple large groups, or into many smaller groups?
I have always felt that by calling it "United" they were being dishonest and were tempting fate.
Anonymous wrote: "I have always felt that by calling it 'United' they were being dishonest and were tempting fate."
I don't know if I would call it dishonest. Lofty, certainly. Lofty goals are hard to realize, though, so in hindsight it probably was tempting fate.
Actually that is an interesting statement. Our congregation was told by a minister some time ago that they (UCG) had called themselves united and some said they put the "checks and balances" of their governance in place so that Satan would not be able to get at them so easily—(the minister said he did not think the name would be fully true—guess that didn't work all that well with the name or the checks and balances, did it.
It seems to me that this is simply Act II of the David Hulme split with UCG which took place in 98. Those of us who left with DH at that stage were also labeled conservatives (although we later discovered that DH was far from doctrinally conservative). There was also an issue concerning where the HQ or the more sensitive "Home Office" would be located, and doctrinally, the issue wasn't the Sabbath, but was whether we would "Preach the Gospel" or "witness" to our neighbors. I have heard some undercurrent concerning the Gospel issue as well in this present ruckus.
Many ministers who were drawn to DH at that time ended up staying in UCG, and I could only guess that the reason was that they had personal reservations about the man himself. It turns out that they were right – if we judge strictly by the fruits no one would be able to say that DH's organization has in any way eclipsed or even approached the level of publicity which UCG garners through the GN magazine and their television show (although for the size of the organization it still punches well below its weight), and since the split, his organization has only continued to shrink.
It seems that after DH's departure, a calm was achieved in UCG as a sort of détente developed between conservative/liberal factions. But now, the same tensions that were present in 98 have sprung out into the open again.
I listened to a an audio radio interview of Joe Tkach Jr., which he gave in Chicago in the mid 90s. I recall him (rather ominously) stating that the United Church of God was formed by people he knew, and who had been generally, to a point, supportive of the "reforms" (as he called them) that were undertaken in the WCG. He also stated smugly that the actions taken by the WCG would impact the theology of the United Church of God. When looking back upon the problems that have developed between a "left" and "right" factions, one could make a case that he was right.