New UCG Letter to Ministry and Members; Oh! And Arctic Circle Guy Helps to Clarify Which Side Is Wrong Again

Earlier today, at Inside United: Realtime, a new letter addressed to both the ministry and the members was put out, “Dec. 23 Letter to Ministers and Members”.  Unlike some other letters, it is addressed to “Dear Ministers and Members”.

I initally thought about commenting on it, and then I decided not to.  Frankly, it doesn’t seem to have much to say.  In spite of that, a concerted effort was made to email it to members as well.  So, I assume it will likely be mailed to members also, but that is an assumption.  At any rate, so I feel compelled to comment on it.

It talks again of the recent turmoil, of “current long and hard trials” and claims the belief that all that “is nearing its end.”  It talks of receiving a number of resignations.

The only thing “new” really isn’t, IMO:

The Council of Elders is in possession of irrefutable documentation that demonstrates complicity by certain ministers and members in secretive efforts to undermine and destroy the very organizational fabric of the United Church of God. We are greatly saddened to see this, as it hurts to know as a fact that some have essentially said one thing regarding reconciliation or resolution of differences while working behind the scenes with a completely different agenda.

This documentation, authored by a former home office administrator, lays bare organized efforts at a very high level to break away. It distorts the record and generally reflects a grievous state of mind among those who are fracturing current relationships and trying to influence members of the United Church of God into following them.

Sadly, if past events are any guide to the future, documentation will soon appear online, together with varied “analyses” of various stripes and colors, trying to again spin this documentation somehow into one more quasi-“proof” of the alleged evils of the Council of Elders. 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. We simply ask for the faithful service of our employees and ministry to the Church that employs them, recognizing that not everyone thinks alike but that we all need to work within the structure we all agreed upon in 1995.

Well, what can I say?  If you leave information gaps, then people are wont to fill them.  The COE has “irrefutable documentation”, but what does that really mean?  It’s hard to analyze what is hidden.  In fact, that only leads to more speculation.

This is just another example of lots of “communication” that really doesn’t tell you anything.

Well, it isn’t all bad, at least.  “Submit”, “accuse”, “slander” and “rebel” don’t appear in this letter.  There is also at least one little gem:

If this time indeed marks the end of a long and sore trial within the Church, we must be prepared to humbly learn from our mistakes, of where we have fallen short of the perfection that is the Father, and we must be prepared to move forward.

However, it remains to be seen how many really do learn from their mistakes and avoid the mistakes that others have made as well.  As I pointed out above, lack of information leads to problems.  It’s been that way all along, I’m afraid.  Statements appear “that have little or no basis in fact” and are believed because the facts are not there.  The delays appear like stalling tactics, which guarantees people will scrutinize any material eventually released.  So, does this letter show anyone has learned anything?

Well, like I said, at least it isn’t calling anyone “rebellious”, but it does come pretty close.

I still have to wonder, though, about the “secretive efforts” and “working behind the scenes with a completely different agenda.”  Are these really actions of “undermining”, or is it from fear of retaliation?  Or, is someone becoming paranoid?

I mean, you have to wonder.  When fear of losing control means deleting comments of genuine concern off of their blog, who are you going to believe?

Sorry, but this crisis isn’t going to go away by papering over it with yet another vaguely written letter.

Oh, and speaking of letters, I suppose Mr Arctic Circle Guy could agree with me any less.  He wrote a rather long rambling letter of praise to Denny Luker on the GCE forum yesterday.  “You [yes, Dennis Luker] are causing the United Church of God to become more united than we have been at any time in our history” (bolded text my emphasis).  Thank you, very much for once again showing everyone just where sanity does not reside.

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  1. I just read this, and also the self righteous blither and blather on James Malm's blog criticising the UCG congregation in Orlando Fl. for setting up a legal structure for their congregation two weeks ago. If one found themselves in the situation where they knew a problem was coming, and they did nothing to prepare for it – I think that it would be quite foolish. In the case of the Orlando group, I cannot see where preparing for what was almost certainly about to take place, in any way undermines their sincerity.

    As for the COE letter, I wonder whether Dennis Luker discussed with fellow ministers, and also members of the Garden Grove, CA congregation his departure from the WCG ahead of the 1995 mass exodus – and if so, did that make him insincere? I seem to remember a certain MALNET e-mail discussion forum which many ministers in the WCG at the time were a part of, where plans for the future of the Church were clearly discussed prior to their departure. In fact, in one instance ministers actually passed around planning charts which showed where they thought the congregations would be set up, how many members would require care, and what type of office would be needed to administer the structure.

    Of course Tkach et al., condemned these things, calling the senior elders who were leading the resistance, traitors and Judases and the like. I don't remember Mr. Luker condemning any of his fellow "conspirators" at that time for their planning – indeed he was a founding council member of UCG.

    But what I do remember is a minister by the name of Jimmy Friddle at that time writing a public letter praising, to the point where it became transparently ridiculous, Mr. Tkach as God's chosen leader, in the midst of what was the worst crisis of leadership the church had ever experienced. The letter was passed around as a morale booster – I think it was the next Sabbath that the mass resignations began.

    Interesting the parallels.

  2. I couldn't help but notice the parallels with the UCG split from WCG as well. It's sad that this has really been the state of the Church over the centuries.

    ACG – this dude is out there. It took me three tries to complete the letter. I nearly get physically ill trying to read it. Seriously. Can anyone say the word "sycophant"? In case you don't know what the word means follow the link and look at the alternate words that are more common for the everyday man.

    I also notice that in his "praise" of Mr. Luker that their he gives credit directly to him for the state of the church. Interesting to say the least.

    Maybe they should attach a copy of this letter to the one they mail out to the membership.

  3. @Anonymous: I don't follow Malm's blog on a regular basis, so I had to go check out the article you mentioned.

    He wrote: "Where is the honest man who consults with his employers, or resigns: BEFORE TAKING UP AGAINST HIS EMPLOYER?"

    I'm not sure what this has to do with honesty. Most jobs these days are "at will", meaning the company can lay you off for no reason at all. Conversely, the employee can quit, sometimes with little or no notice. Sort of like the time a person gave two weeks notice and then pointed out they had 3 vacation days left.

    If a company is laying off, people are getting fired, etc., who in their right mind wouldn't be looking at alternatives?

  4. @Anonymous #2: Yes, it took me a couple of tries as well. I haven't read anything of his that did not give me a headache.

  5. At this point, I truly believe that Malm is showing his POV as skewed and promoting division. He is spreading rumors, the one about Greg Sergeant show that he will post assumption and assume its fact because a minister won't address it.

  6. There's been a lot of bizarre stuff written by both sides of this. That letter certainly deserves a place on the wall of shame though.

  7. I was a member of the cog since 1986 but because I am not religiously gullible instead I chose to be more like the Bereans in the apostles time.I have been researching and reading alot of information about this religious organization for a long time and I discovered that many things that are not scriptural nor spiritually sound have been the order of their day. I came to the conclusion that some of the leaders are dumb dogs. Shepherds that cannot understand, all took to their own way; everyone for his gain. Isa.56 v10-12. They scatter the flock. Therefore The YHVH is against the pastors that feed His sheep. Jerm. 23 V 1-4 . The shepherd lead the sheep astray. They have been lost. They have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place.Jerm.50 v6. They prey upon the flock( for tithes and offerings )instead of feeding them. Eze.34 v2-4. They are corrupts priests.They rule by their means and the people (their supporters)love it.
    Jerm.5v31. I think that, and this just my opinion, that "Darkness has come upon UCG and gross darkness the people." Let us pray, really pray!

  8. Setting up another church while still being paid to work for UCG is a little different to a commercial company about to lay off a person, and looking for an alternative job.

    The difference? The difference is that the minister knows full well that the members of the new church will be drawn almost exclusively from the organisation that the person is currently working for.

    Both 'sides' are talking about ethics – in the business world it would be considered completely unethical, in fact dishonest to go into competition against a former employer. One reason of course is that you are taking your current knowledge base, insider information if you like, learnt while employed, and are then using this knowledge to compete directly against the former employer.

    In some countries this would be illegal until a certain amount of time, maybe a year, has past.

  9. @Questeruk: That would actually depend a lot upon what line of work it is and what companies are involved. If you quite McDonald's to work at Burger King, you'd have to be pretty high up to have signed anything with a non-compete clause in it.

    In the present crisis, there's a good chance that any members that exit with a minister would have left anyhow.

  10. C'mon Questeruk. Its not like they were setting this up six months in advance. Two weeks before the split, some concerned members of the UCG Orlando congregation set up a corporate structure to take care of what was an almost certain eventuality. Hardly "competing with UCG". And by the way, in professional settings (Accountants, lawyers consultants) it happens all the time that if one or more employees is leaving, that they prepare for their departure while winding things up at their present place of work. Nothing unethical in that.

  11. 'In the present crisis, there's a good chance that any members that exit with a minister would have left anyhow.'

    Maybe – but a number of people seem to follow if a minister leaves, or stay if they stay.

    Unfortunate – maybe it's what sheep do?

  12. I posted the following comment to the Dec. 23 letter this morning at Realtime — we'll see if it stays:

    In Bible study this morning I was drawn to Revelation 2:4-5: “Yet I hold this agaist you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first….”

    If our “first love” was for any church organization or human leader, was it not in the wrong place?

    All of us (apparently including ministers) need to reassess where our true love is, and where it belongs — with Jesus Christ.

  13. @Richard: Congratulations! It's been 9 hours, and it's still there! There's hope we can learn, after all.

  14. sabbath day church of God

    does anyone not realize that all these church splits will and must happen before the return of Christ? people should read Daniel 12 and realize that no matter who instigates the split, or starts another organization it will be brought to nothing before Christ returns.
    Fred Porter, Pastor sdcog