Um, wow! I had to drop everything when I stumbled across this. Darris McNeely recorded a video about recent events in UCG. The video and the transcript are at “Questions and Answers from the Council of Elders – Darris McNeely”. It is an obvious attempt to make the COE look like the good guys in all of this, but to me it is proof that there is no desire to reconcile, and it portrays the attitude I’ve decried all along.
This crisis did not have to happen. It happened because a number of former ministers made a choice not to accept the governing principles that the vast majority agreed to some 15 years ago. Some say they accept our governance but still chose to break away. And now we are all dealing with the aftermath and planning for the future.
All members of the United Church of God will have Sabbath services to attend and worship God. We have many faithful elders who are stepping into the breach and supporting the Church. To those who have resigned, we say: "It doesn’t have to be this way. You know the way back. The door is open."
Translation: “We are still right, and you are still wrong. When you admit you are wrong, you may come back with your tail between your legs.” Real reconciling stuff, there.
However, ripping scabs off of wounds is not enough, apparently. McNeely further on pours on the whole salt container:
As the Word of God faithfully records in the 32nd chapter of Numbers , "be sure your sin will find you out" [verse 23]. And that has happened, while we were trying to work towards a solution.
Yeah, that will get them coming back in droves, Darris. Way to be tactful! No burning of bridges there!
How can anyone read that and not see for a certainty that reconciliation is not their priority?
This documentation that we on the Council have received shows that former ministers and administrators were secretly planning organizational meetings, structure and timing of their departure even as they spoke and wrote to Mr. Luker and others that they had never been a part of any such planning. It’s all very, very sad, as this documentation demonstrates the unethical conduct of former administrators and ministers in preparing to break away from the United Church of God.
Of course, previously he said, “Because of Human Resource and other issues, we don’t plan to directly publish the e-mails and other documentation that the Council received from a variety of sources.” Pretty convenient, actually.
This reminds me of the twisted timeline of the events in Leon Walker’s firing and subsequently sending down Mario Seiglie to the region. It seems pretty obvious to me that when meeting after meeting ends with an impasse, then sooner or later someone is going to make plans to do something else.
Oh, and I get tired of hearing how much “planning” it all takes. Folks, I started a business and had it up and running in two weeks. I got a web address in about 30 minutes. I’m the wrong person to try to pull the wool over my eyes on that one!
None of our governing documents and nobody on the Council requires any minister to swear allegiance to any man.
Perhaps not, but Dennis Luker did stand up on more than one occasion and say that there must be loyalty to an organization of men. So, while the above might not be a lie, it gives a false impression and borders on bearing false witness.
What we cannot tolerate as an organization and as a group of people claiming to uphold the laws of God is for people to stand up in services and create fear and uncertainty.
Then, the COE and the President should resign immediately. Lack of information causes fear and uncertainty, and the present leadership has done everything in its power to control information. Threatening people with a “submit or else” ultimatum causes a great deal of fear and uncertainty, especially when members are sitting there wondering what in the world is going on.
No one is forced out.
Right. I’m sure Joel Meeker would agree.
The key issue here is that open apologies have been extended by those remaining here within the United Church of God. You should know, or at least be reminded, of the fact that both Roy Holladay, then the interim president of the Church and the chairman of the Council, made an open apology to all at last May’s General Conference of Elders. Victor Kubik, then the acting operational manager for Ministerial Services, made an open apology at the same GCE meeting. Several Council members have previously expressed the same.
I’ve honestly only heard one, and that was from Dennis Luker. The problem, of course, is that as soon as the apology was rendered, certain supporters of the COE and administration took it upon themselves to defend the very thing he apologized for. As for the rest, where are their apologies to the members? Apologizing to the GCE isn’t the same thing.
Lest any be in doubt, speaking on behalf of the Council of Elders today, let me offer an apology to any and all who were and remain offended.
Yes, like that! If that had been broadcast months ago, perhaps people would not still be leaving! Why wait until it is too late?
Given the current situation, some have asked whether it is permissible to attend services of other organizations. We on the Council certainly don’t endorse any breakaway organization, particularly ones led by former ministers who make false claims and who have tried to break us apart. As I noted earlier, a free Webcast of services from the Home Office here is now available to all on the Sabbath. Please take advantage of this offer if you don’t have a regular service in your area.
Translation: “We might lose control over you if you listen to ‘them’.”
Some former ministers and administrators are now calling for younger people associated with the United Church of God to leave and join their group. There is absolutely no reason for any young person to consider this. As this turmoil passes, we have every reason to believe that God will give growth to the Church.
That’s quite a serious charge, in my book, and I want proof. Forget about human resource mumbo-jumbo, if you cannot back that up, don’t make such a charge. I cannot speak for other areas, but there is nothing like that going on here. Not only have I seen no proof that anyone was called, asked or persuaded to leave UCG, but locally we were told to not invite anyone unless we knew they wanted to leave.
All this message does is to harden people’s positions if they already decided to leave and make the current UCG leadership look righteous to those who choose to believe them. There is nothing to make anyone want to reconcile with someone who would put out such a message. However, that seems to be the way the whole ordeal has gone.
Now I have to pray. I’m angry, and the sun is going down.
I admit I haven't been following the UCG situation over the past couple of years. The split is happening because of what?- they wanted to move to Texas and the COE said no? The way the COE is elected is suspect? It all sounds like just another schoolyard COG fight. Doctrine, even way back in 1994, was secondary to all that is so despised with people seeking power. IMHO, whatever "name" any COG splinter takes, it certainly degrades the "Church of God" brand, the supposed sacred CORE of names for a church.
John, I thought the same thing when I read all that.
The quotes that stand out specifically for me include:
"How many times can you meet to discuss issues for which answers already exist?"
If they're asking questions, the answers aren't satisfactory. Or even answers. And I'm also reminded of Peter asking how many times he had to forgive his brother.
"Continuing, a number of people believe that there is fault on both sides of this situation—that both certain Council members and former administrators/Council members possess some responsibility for where we are today. That’s a fair question. And the answer is yes. The former administration made mistakes by pushing the move to Texas and by withholding information from the Council of Elders. We have made mistakes in trying to pick up the pieces and seeking to reconcile with an uncooperative former administration."
That paragraph alone says a lot to me about the mindset at work here. It's not an apology or even really doing anything but giving lip service that they made mistakes. It comes across clear that the thought is "Actually, we didn't make any."
And regarding the young people thing, I do not know if it is true either. I certainly haven't heard of it happening, but I heard there was a lot of "Are you with us or them?" going on at WFW (where the people asking were mostly the ones leaving). In either case, it's interesting they hit that topic like they did.
Up until now, the young people have been virtually ignored by UCG (not literally, just in terms of putting to use). And just last week I made a comment on FB about the great work that I see that can come out of this new org by using the internet effectively (financially they'll be strapped, but there's little costs associated to preach effectively online). And that they can be more effective in using the internet by using the young people and their experience, knowledge, and education.
I haven't seen any evidence of ex-UCG members asking young people to join them, but I know for certain that some have asked UCG members to do so.
I live in the Seattle area now, but in the congregation I was a part of in FL, an ex-UCG elder was in the parking lot before UCG services telling the members where they were meeting for services later in the day. That can be interpreted by some as trying to steal members away. I've also heard of similar things happening in TX.
I find it interesting that Darris is so critical of the previous administration, now that they all pretty much resigned. Is the COE going to make them the scapegoat in this mess? I don't think they're as culpable in this as he's claiming, but what do I know.
@Andrew: I had thought the same thing about Peter, actually. I forgot to include it, so thanks for bringing it up.
There's a big difference between members speaking to one another about where they are going to wind up and "ministers and administrators" actively recruiting them. But, then again, it is a propaganda campaign.
@Anonymous: Unfortunately, it seems that for some it is about power and control. What distresses me the most, though, is that truth has become a casualty in this conflict.
The implication is that these "rebellious ministers" are trying to steal the young people. From my experience it is the young people who would be talking with their peers. If you examine the list of ministers leaving and those staying in relationship to youth and camp programs it explains the concern. All at once the counsel members have an interest in the youth. Where were they before?
@Anonymous: Ah! So, now it makes sense. I didn't think of that. Thanks.
You al' may have hit upon something here. When you need new recruits where is the easiest place to find them. The youth. (Hitler brownshirts come to mind.) But what puzzles me is one of the many reason I have heard people say they like UCG was because they provide for the youth, camps and such. Which the members didn't want to give up having as a perk after leaving WWCG.
Anyway, the youth of church should not be used in such a way. Pawns in the game 'Whose Got Control Now.'
@Anonymous: Remember the main reason Mario Seiglie was sent to Latin America? To protect UCG assets. It's not hard to see what frame of mind is at work there.
"But what puzzles me is one of the many reason I have heard people say they like UCG was because they provide for the youth, camps and such."
That should tell you something when ministers are willing to give up their retirement, incur a loss income (perhaps temporary, perhaps not) and start rebuilding at an age when many retire, and then members are willing to possibly have fewer camps and other get togethers.
So I watched the video. I suppose one's view of it depends on where they come down on this. Most of those who have already made a decision to go elsewhere probably wouldn't have been satisfied with anything short of self immolation. This video wouldn't have changed any minds but it was clearly aimed at those still within ucg who are concerned about its future. One interesting point is the mention of ministerial reassignments in the next few weeks. It will be fascinating to see what those are.
John, you didn’t mention that the specific question of the Sabbath in general and Chile in particular, which was addressed:-
“The Council believes in and upholds the Statement of Beliefs of the United Church of God, including our traditional biblical teachings about the Sabbath day.”
Referring specifically to the Chile case:-
“The individuals in question, whose actions were tragically and wrongly judged by many, have agreed to abide by the ruling of the Council. The Council will uphold our traditional teachings.”
“The individuals in question, whose actions were tragically and wrongly judged by many, have agreed to abide by the ruling of the Council. The Council will uphold our traditional teachings.”
That's an inherent contradiction, then. How were they "wrongly judged" if the COE is upholding "traditional teachings" like you don't pay someone else to do your work on the Sabbath?
Furthermore, the COE has not made a decision yet, which is one reason I didn't bring it up. Even the preceding sentence says:
"Regarding the situation in Chile, the Doctrine Committee and the Council of Elders have requested additional information about that specific situation and its resolution."
From what I've been led to believe, the Doctrinal Committee made their recommendation and the COE rejected it. Granted, that may or may not be true, but the above seems to fit that scenario.
Many of us, on the other hand, who are staying in United are grieved to see ministers and elders who have undermined the Council through innuendos, comments both veiled and open, incomplete sharing of information, and Sabbath notes patently designed to advance one perspective.
My husband and I have had conversations with the elders and our pastor over the last many months, truly trying to understand what the issues are that could justify breaking up our loving and peaceful congregation. In the end, our pleas for unity have accomplished nothing.
We would welcome an apology from the men in our area who have taken a congregation known for its stability and love, and instead sown turmoil, grief and separation.
John, notice their wording.
"Lest anyone not understand, let me say this: Members of the United Church of God are not to do any ordinary or regular work on either the 7th day Sabbath or on the Holy Days. We uphold that teaching."
Only UCG Members aren't to work on the Sabbath?That is NOT the policy UCG has on the books. Or perhaps I should say had? We shall see if that, too, is discarded with their characteristic "sweepery under the ruggery". But let's be clear – that's not the "policy" that GOD has on the Books – ie, HIS BOOKS.
@ Andrew – THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Your point about the paragraph where they admit no fault, basically saying that they haven't been wrong about ANYTHING – you captured my exact thoughts! I've been looking for one SHRED of humility and repentance from them. Don't get me wrong – I've looked for that from both sides. However, the "rebellious" side HAS shown humility consistently by admitting an error. (I think of several overly-charged letters that were later apologized for – UCG's reward for (ie, fruits of) that repentance? One man was fired, and the other was suspended from speaking in English for a couple years and THEN fired. Not classy, UCG.) So, when I got to this paragraph and started to read, my heart sped up, my breath quickened, and I was HOPING, beyond hope, that my bags by the doors of UCG could be unpacked and I could stay! REPENTANCE! HUMILITY!! GENUINE ADMISSION OF HUMAN FALLIBILITY!! IT'S HAPPENING!!!!
And then that.
@John – This has definitely been my favorite post of yours BY FAR because you were so candid with your reaction. I appreciate your calm and collected tone with most posts. I try to do the same (not that I always succeed). But I definitely appreciated your tone with this. It made me laugh until I realized just how 100% dismally true it was.
John you wrote it pretty much the same way I saw it. I was talking with my wife afterwards because the video truly infuriated me.
For those who think we need to keep the letter of the law, I must ask, how do you get to Sabbath services every week? Do you drive an hour? If so you are breaking the letter of the law.
Jesus himself said the priesthood broke the law when offering in the temple on the Sabbath. This would imply that "ministers" giving an hour or more sermon on the Sabbath is breaking the letter of the law.
Maybe you folks that are hung up on the Chili situation need to think about how mercy fits into our religion.
How not being judgmental fits into our religion.
Come on folks, the law shows us what sin is, we are all sinners. This doesn't mean we are to live a life of sin, but it means we are all able to determine when "our" ox is in the ditch.
Folks, the ox in the ditch situation is breaking the Sabbath. It's not a special dispensation meaning we're not breaking the letter of the law by helping our ox.
Nope, we're breaking the letter, but God allows us to make decisions based upon mercy.
What if I was a regular member of your congregation, and suppose you saw me shingling a roof on the Sabbath? Would you go running to the "minister" to tell him? Would you go blabbing to others at church until the "minister" found out about it?
Well, what if you found out that the roof belonged to a crippled elderly lady and the roof was so bad that it was dangerous for her to live there, and the Sabbath was the only day that I had that I could help her?
Is it your place to decide anyway? Or is it mine?
Is it up to you to decide if my ox is in my ditch? Or is it my decision? Is it between you and God to determine how I obey him? Or is it between me and God?
The spiritual immaturity that I've seen on this day care situation simply amazes me.
Oh my heavens! I read all these blogs from different sites and what stands out the most is how everyone both in and out of the UCG look at the people as mindless merchandise with the attitude of whoever gets to them first wins them over! the sad part is.. there is some truth to that.
Kevin wrote: "Do you drive an hour? If so you are breaking the letter of the law."
"What if I was a regular member of your congregation, and suppose you saw me shingling a roof on the Sabbath? Would you go running to the 'minister' to tell him? Would you go blabbing to others at church until the 'minister' found out about it?"
No, because Mt 18 says to do something else.
"Well, what if you found out that the roof belonged to a crippled elderly lady and the roof was so bad that it was dangerous for her to live there, and the Sabbath was the only day that I had that I could help her?"
That's called a false dichotomy … not to mention pretty contrived.
"Is it your place to decide anyway? Or is it mine?"
You are completely missing the point. If a church has a policy to not shingle on the Sabbath, but then then turns around and approves the above contrived act, then the church in question is guilty of hypocrisy.
The actions of one family in Chile are one thing. The tacit approval of it is something else more serious. Yet, the doves insist upon deflecting the real problem of hypocrisy while decrying "attacks" upon the family in question.
It is interesting how the same message can have totally different interpretations by different people. I did not have the same reaction as you John. To me what McNeely said was fair. You cannot have an organization with agreed rules and then ignore them. In the end what option did the Council have? To change the rules to what the minority want and then go against the majority? In the end to have order you have to stand somewhere. As Amos 3:3 'Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?'(NKJ)
In the end I think Paul has a good point in Phil 1:15,18 'Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: (18)What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.' (NKJ) I am not implying that those who disagree are all doing this out of wrong motives: my point is that preaching the gospel is the key. Paul here was not playing political games, not worrying about numbers, his focus was on preaching the gospel alone. Along with feeding the flock, I hope this is also the motivation of all sides. Time will tell.
I didn't see several of these quotes before. The transcript had already been edited by the time I got it.
John (and others)
It was pointed out to me, the video and transcript have both been edited. For example, the paragraph I quoted about "mistakes" on both sides has been cut. It jumps from "Continuing, a number of people believe that there is fault on both sides of this situation—that both certain Council members and former administrators/Council members possess some responsibility for where we are today." to the bit about "The key issue here is that open apologies have been extended by those remaining here within the United Church of God."
I think they realized the folly in saying that… but the truth is they did say it.
I should point out as well that there may have been edits before it was even posted. It doesn't necessarily mean a cover-up; it might just mean the speaker said something that wasn't appropriate.
I'll leave it to you to decide if the final product was appropriate or not.
John, it's not the pre-posting edits that are interesting. It's just that one quote they initially published and recorded has now been edited out–that needed to be noted lest anyone think that it was putting words in anyone's mouth.
However, I do have a copy of the original transcript they posted. I'll look for any further changes or edits.
@Andrew: I mentioned it because someone ping'ed me about that very thing this morning. Someone was more or less accused of making something up. It's a sad state of affairs, really.
Other things that have been edited out.
Things are the same up until just after this paragraph:
"Please allow me to speak plainly: the Council is most definitely not planning any doctrinal changes. The Council does not have that power. The Council believes in and upholds the Statement of Beliefs of the United Church of God, including our traditional biblical teachings about the Sabbath day."
Original transcript reads:
"Lest anyone not understand, let me say this: Members of the United Church of God are not to do any ordinary or regular work on either the 7th day Sabbath or on the Holy Days. We uphold that teaching. The laws of God, most definitely, including the sacredness of the Sabbath day, remain in force and we will observe them. I don’t know how to make that any plainer.
"Regarding the situation in Chile, the Doctrine Committee and the Council of Elders have requested additional information about that specific situation and its resolution. The individuals in question, whose actions were tragically and wrongly judged by many, have agreed to abide by the ruling of the Council. The Council will uphold our traditional teachings.
"I will note that the Council, in agreement and in support of similar statements made several weeks ago by Mr. Luker, offers an apology to any and all who might have been confused about how this was initially handled. We on the Council sincerely hope that a spirit of forgiveness can be extended to all regarding this issue, and that it can be laid to rest once and for all. There is a process to deal with issues like these, and it is active."
The new transcript uses the same lead-in, but then just jumps to:
"On another note, the Council is in agreement and in support of similar statements made several weeks ago by Mr. Luker, offering an apology to any and all who might have been confused about how this was initially handled."
"What we cannot tolerate as an organization and as a group of people claiming to uphold the laws
of God is for people to stand up in services and create fear and uncertainty. This is particularly true when those same people are paid out of the tithes and offerings freely given by the people they are supposed to support."
"What we cannot tolerate as an organization and as a group of people claiming to uphold the laws
of God is for people to stand up in services and create fear and uncertainty."
Third and final edit: Already noted above, but removal of the following "That’s a fair question. And the answer is yes. The former administration made mistakes by pushing the move to Texas and by withholding information from the Council of Elders. We have made mistakes in trying to pick up the pieces and seeking to reconcile with an uncooperative former administration."
OK, this is sort of amusing. The HTML transcript is different than the PDF/Word document that is a link on their site (unless my copy is just cached). It seems they still don't have a good editorial process.
At this point, I would caution trying to read too much into this. Yes, it does somewhat alter the tone of the message, but to definitively say it is intentional and then leave differing versions out there doesn't add up.
The HTML version is at: http://coe.ucg.org/content/questions-and-answers-council-elders-darris-mcneely
I ran a comparison of the versions using Word and made a PDF [broken link removed by admin] out of it.
(I didn't fully copy and paste the jump-to paragraph from the first edit I noted. It still has the same about extending the spirit of forgiveness. Did not notice that mistake until just now.)
Further clarification and personal correction: I have been told that the original video and audio of this recording did not include the statements to begin with. They were only in the transcript that was first posted.
I was positive I recalled hearing those statements, but as I have no audio or video to go back to, I cannot say for sure. Not unless a copy of the audio with him saying that surfaces.
If that is the case, then the second two edits are of less concern for me than before as they were not recorded (though the fact they were initially written TO be recorded as a statement by the Council should not be overlooked). But the first one still begs the question: why exclude it, why not record it?
The first paragraph would've only strengthened their position and made it very clear what it is they promote and teach in very explicit words. I know of others that thought such an explicit statement was -comforting- to hear. They gained nothing in leaving it out and allow their words to be more ambiguous and back to vague reassurances. Finding out that it was excluded further -weakens- their current position and claims they uphold that teaching fully. That is a concern for me–and I've never thought or had reason to think that the Council has been getting ready to change the Sabbath doctrine. I am still not going to say they are… but I cannot help but be troubled by this.
The second paragraph I can understand leaving out, for the fact of the statement of the family's matters and I know those that have jumped on him for the use of "wrongly judged" (which implies that they stand firmly behind the family in what they did). This exclusion is trivial. The first paragraph is just plain concerning. And they are not inextricably tied together that leaving the second out means leaving the first out, too.
I have e-mailed Mr McNeely directly regarding the matter and asking why.
@Andrew – I would like to know Mr McNeely's response since I noticed the same omissions. I wrote a comment concerning this on the Real Time Blog today and it was removed within 15 minutes of my posting. (Why the original transcipts posted on Friday night were altered by Saturday night and why the PDF linked to on the Real Time page were different from the original transcripts)I felt it was an honest questions and it concerns me that it was removed.
@Andrew & Anonymous: You are where I was a few months ago. I wanted to believe the COE and president, but things just didn't add up. Be sure to pray not just to show you the right way but that you do the right thing for the right reasons.
Hi John. I find it very interesting the constant throwing of Stones with all these groups! who claim to be God's "church" . To explain the vast collection of beliefs of all these groups blows one's mind. These men who set themselves up as God' ministers and the only ones that have the Truth – it is one big joke!. It obvious that God is not in one's particular Box. The Body Of Christ is where it is at!! We have to stand on our two feet when we stand before our Creator. That no man stands between us and Our God except Our Saviour. We answer for ourselves' It will be by our personal conduct the Fruits of our lives and how Our Saviour.s Mind was in us that will really count. Ah!! I realize that you have heard all this before..However. we are living in some very difficult times that our personal relationship with our Creator is far more important than any Religious Organization of men'… See you all in the Kingdom. I'll drink to that!!