What’s In a Name? And What Is a Peaceful Separation, Anyhow?

Well, the Church of God – a Worldwide Association has been meeting since Sunday (earlier, if you count the “pre-meeting meetings”) to discuss structure, organization and a name.  There was a temporary board meeting with a temporary structure under a temporary name, but now hopefully some of this will start to take a more permanent shape.  In reality, the structure won’t be permanent for a while yet, as the house is still under construction.

But, tomorrow one thing should be sure: the name.  Yes, even the name was a temporary one (although it is one of the top contenders).  Some dislike the “worldwide” in the name, while others quite like it – ironically, both attitudes likely go back to the WCG days.

Ah, but a rose by any other name …!

Speaking of names, you probably remember “call me Denny; that’s my name”.  He was the one who called for a “peaceful separation”.  Well, now all those troublemakers have gone, and they are forming their own organization.  You would think that if “peaceful” were the objective, then he could just let it go by now.  Well, his latest letter indicates that perhaps he is not so ready to just forgive and forget.

Why did the Council of Elders call for a meeting of all ministers in late January 2011, instead of earlier?

As formally announced on January 4, the Council of Elders has called a meeting of all elders in good standing to take place in Cincinnati January 31 through February 1. The purpose of these meetings will focus on looking to God the Father and Jesus Christ, the living Leader of the United Church of God, and seeking God’s will in determining how to advance the work of the Church. The Council believes that this advancement can only be achieved by following Jesus in unity, peace and love one for another.

Some have asked, “Why wasn’t this meeting called earlier?” The answer is that the nature and purpose of this current meeting is quite different from that requested by a number of now-former elders. The Bible asks this important question: “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:6). As documented in an earlier letter from the Council to the membership over the past two years, Council members, administrators and others met and discussed key issues many times. Many face-to-face meetings, scores of e-mails and telephone calls took place during that time, including a multiple-day, private retreat of the Council of Elders, which at that time included some members of the former administration.

The vast majority of this activity took place at the ministerial level and the membership was not involved. When former ministers broke faith [emphasis mine] and began to widen this conflict [ditto] to the membership, the Council began to take action. Some former ministers objected to the Council answering questions and protecting the precious flock. A few were terminated, but the majority resigned. They have now formed a separate organization. As evidenced by their actions, those ministers have chosen a different course than that agreed to in the Church’s Constitution, Bylaws and mission based on God’s revealed Word.

In the past, while Council members made numerous good-faith efforts in accordance with biblical principles, former administrators and elders continued to raise the same issues over and over again. Based on this sad experience, it was evident that calling a major meeting just to rehash issues would accomplish little or nothing. Given the open announcement of their plans, long in the making, to form a new organization, it is very evident that any large-scale meeting of all ministers to address old issues would have borne little fruit—because they were acting on previously laid plans and never accepted the factual answers to these issues. (For the factual answers addressed by the Council of Elders and the current administration of the Church, please go to: members.ucg.org/letters.

Numerous opportunities exist within the Bylaws of the Church to institute peaceful and thoughtful change. Any needed change will be achieved by “walking together” in unity and peace, following the leadership of Jesus Christ. Meetings driven by strife and a wrong seeking of administrative power and position cannot produce godly results.

Admittedly, during this period of conflict, the work of the Church—that of preaching the Gospel and preparing a people—has been hampered. Drawing on a “multitude of counselors” (Proverb 24:14), the January conference will refocus the Church’s spiritual, physical and human resources on achieving and advancing that work.


Dennis Luker—President

PS—Once again, here is the link to the Web site that contains the archive of letters written by the administration and Council of Elders that address these issues and more: members.ucg.org/letters.

Now, I don’t know who is asking the question, although I assume from the context it is from within the ranks.  It’s fine to answer questions, but why the continuing accusations now that a separation has occurred?  Isn’t enough enough?

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.


  1. Often times, Mr Luker isn't the one writing those letters. He simply signs his name to them. This is something that has happened often over the past six months and he'll attest to.

    He's even stated he didn't always agree with what has been said, but will sign it anyway (which shows another serious problem, imo, and is essentially lying).

    It's sad to see the attacks still happening as they are. But they have to be if they are to discredit the organization any further and set the groundwork for their upcoming conference.

    Did anyone else think it was weird how he reiterated where to go to get the CoE's statements? As if saying "Pay no attention to anything else"?

  2. Where I come from, if you sign your name to something, that means you are endorsing it, regardless of who wrote it. Otherwise, what's the point?

    I don't see why discrediting the new organization (which is what I think you meant) is a good foundation for a conference. COG-WA has gone out of its way to quit throwing any stones and move on, it seems to me. Why can't UCG do the same already?

    No, I didn't think it odd. This is at least the 3rd time that pointers to the official explanations have been posted. I won't repeat what I've already written about that issue because it just won't make anything better.

  3. Precisely why that -is- a problem that he signs it anyway.

    By odd I mean "almost pleading." Obviously they want people to know where to go to get the company line on things. It just seemed very Wizard of Oz. "Pay no attention to the Council behind the curtain!"

    As far as the discrediting goes, it's simple. They're having to set a foundation now to keep those that stayed–not all of them are firmly pro-CoE, some are only there because they see no need in leaving. This is true of a large chunk of elders and members.

    They have to discredit the men that left continually to make sure the prospect of anyone else leaving is nullified for now. This conference they won't face any hard questions and will get to consolidate the power they've fought hard to maintain. All the while, they have to play up the role of being the victim in all this.

    "Perception is reality" as the adage goes. If people perceive that UCG is in the right and the leavers wrong, they've established the view point they want and help prevent further bleeding.

    And while COGWA has not only gone out of its way to stop throwing stones–and put out a series of points they ask all the ministry and members to abide by during this time–how many people are going to recognize that over confused emotions and the words of those they're staying with and trust?

  4. @Andrew: OK, those might be "good" reasons, but I was more pondering if the discrediting will make a "good" foundation, if you know what I mean.

  5. I just got this notice on COG-WA: "The elders also confirmed the temporary governance teams (board and leadership team) as continuing until we have a more long-term organization in place (which will no doubt take some months). The atmosphere is noticeably positive and forward-looking, which is a great relief."

  6. John said; "The atmosphere is noticeably positive and forward-looking, which is a great relief."
    I agree whole heartedly–did you read the statement by Cecil Maranvile? Click the "blog" at COGWA and take a look at that. I think it is very refreshing and positive looking forward to getting on with doing the work. I also appreciated Clyde K.'s reported statements on sunday's written report.

    Anony Jon

  7. Andrew, I would like to know your evidence that Luker is not checking or reading what he signs. I have worked in several multinational companies in senior positions. There were standard form letters that you signed without checking, but when it came to other letters that were prepared by others, you always read them. If they were important, carefully checking them. It is inconceivable to me that such important letters as those addressing the UCG crisis would not have been carefully scrutinized by Luker. If he didn’t, then quite frankly he is unfit to be in such as senior position.

    This raises another issue that most COG’s face. The leadership is getting old. One of the major mistakes that HWA made was he allowed his vanity (I presume, unless someone can suggest another reason) to keep him in the leadership position way past his use by date. In my view, even if relatively healthy, beyond 75 is too old to hold senior positions in any organization. Perhaps a role of being a mentor or adviser is suitable, but not in the thick of it.

    In regards to the UCG conference and private meetings. It seems to me that Matt 18 step 3 was not applied in taking it to the church or congregation. Although I doubt if it would have altered the events in a major way, if it was made public, it would have enabled the members to hear for themselves from the horse’s mouth. Then decisions could be based on facts.

    I wonder if the proposed conference by either side will be fully recorded and made available to the members. This is God’s church, not any man’s church. Ministers have a special role, but if it is good for Christ to pass on everything the Fathers tells him, then why not them? After all members finance the whole thing and are also one of its main customers, so they clearly have a right to know.

  8. Anony Jon said: "John said…"

    Well, actually I didn't say that. It was a quote from a source who I doubt wants to be identified on this blog.

    Which reminds me, name calling and email addresses (unless munged) are not allowed in comments. This blog is for grownups. You know who you are.

  9. John; I am sorry–please forgive the assumption.
    I have no desire to put words in anyones mouth.
    I have enough trouble with my own.
    Anony Jon

  10. Bureau, I said he didn't -write- most of them. I didn't say that he didn't -check- them. I can see where that confusion may have come in, given the "simply signs his name to them." I thought that implied that there was reading. Sorry that wasn't clearer. This is true for the infamous "white" papers as well, which he's said he and Rhodes did not write.

    And he has made commentary before (vocally in conversations) that he hasn't always agreed with the statements made, but still signs them anyway. He has also made comments that he has not always agreed with how the Council is handling things currently, but it's his job to support and follow their lead and do nothing else. The role of President has turned from administrator of organizational affairs to Council Mouthpiece, more or less.

    All you have to do for that is simply ask him. As far as I am aware, this is not a misrepresentation or even close to not being truthful. Personally, I considered this an obvious fact (the language and terminology used when he speaks and what he says in his sermons are not what is used and said in his letters. They often times give distinctly different messages and voices).

    In my honest opinion, if Mr Luker had any power at all (outside of being a figurehead) this whole thing would've been resolved a lot easier and simpler and could likely have avoided a split.

    On another topic, though, I agree the ministry is getting older and that makes it harder for them to be more effective in the times and technology we have now (effective use of certain technologies is beyond many of them–not said as an insult, just speaking more of their experiences and what they're geared for)

    But God used many men well past their prime and had them keep senior positions. I wouldn't want to be the one making the decision that someone is past their prime and needs to be sent out to pasture…

  11. @Anony Jon: No problem. I didn't want people to get the wrong idea, though. The last half of the comment wasn't directed at you, BTW, just to be clear.

  12. I've been doing a Bible word study of division and separation.

    I'm finding believers are supposed to separate from unclean things (Lev. 15:31, II Cor. 6:17), and Jesus came to divide families (Lk. 12:51-53).

    Paul writes there's not supposed to be schism in the body of believers (I Cor. 12:25) – but he adds "there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval." (I Cor. 11:18-19)

    So should we pray for God to make clear whether this latest split has His approval, and where in the COG's His approval really is?

  13. Is there ever a time we should not be asking for God's approval? Isn't that the same as asking Him to bless our various activities, condition or circumstances?

  14. Well, now that I have read the reports on the new COGWa Org's conference–I have to admit three days ago I was overly optimistic. What is in a name? not much difference it seems—
    Now I am not too sure–it looks like another version of UCG just trying to avoid a few of the past pitfalls–but continuing the basics—fundamentel beliefs etc—Only one man from another country stood up to say the "voting system" was wrong because of the potential for politicing.
    It sounds like the same ole excusses for not being zealous to get the Gospel out there and just rely on God for the increase! That is not going to happen if God sees us setting back to wait on Him to show clearly the way.
    I believe God wants us to get to moving with that end in mind and THEN He will provide direction.
    That is what happened with HWA, is it not?

    Anony Jon

  15. Anony Jon brings up a point in the statement, "I believe God wants us to get to moving with that end in mind and THEN He will provide direction."

    Ah, thus the important value to the Body of Christ for those members with the spiritual gift of discernment to share what they believe the Spirit is leading the new organizational body to do.

    Does UCG or any xCG's even recognize this Biblical gift of the Spirit? And if so, how do they utilize it?

    I wonder if UCG, in the meeting, still makes decisions like decisions were made in WCG. Was time taken at UCG-WA meetings for heart-felt "seeking" and searching prayer for God's direction? Or was a prayer said at the beginning of the meeting and then "let the ideas and politics begin"? Do we "stamp" God's name on things or do we really seek His will? I'm not sure for UCG-WA. I'm just asking.

    Discerning the will of God in important decisions like this should not be rushed IMO. It seems to me, Biblically God has the tendency to have people wait – Samuel tarried while Saul "went to work with the sacrifices" – time and its pressures being of the essence to Saul, instead of God's will. I still struggle with this, too. As far as I can tell God at times leaves impatient man to his own detriment in order to have His will done.

    Paul in Acts wanted to go one way and the man from Macedonia appeared in a vision saying to come another.

    Seeking God's will is crucial at this point in the life of UCG-WA. I believe when an organization steps out to whole-heartedly follow His will, with a true disregard for time, God answers in ways that are amazing because He is then truly being put first and His will sincerely sought.

    A committee IMO should be praying earnestly and collectively about decisions for more than 2-3 minutes with one man leading that prayer. Thus the idea of respecting and yielding to others in the Body – especially those who are gifted with discernment. If the committee is made up of humble men, they will forego their own ideas and seek the ideas God may be laying upon the hearts of other people, thereby esteeming others better than themselves.

  16. President Luker is perfoming his job "perfectly". Demanding loyalty to the company over God and biblical principles appears to be his M.O. and occurs repeatedly. It is not an occasional fumble which would be humanly understandable.

    Biblical knowledge and a spirit led conscience does not permit one to sign letters or carry out orders one does not agree with. The Nuremberg defense "I was only following orders" did not work in 1945/46 nor with a Righteous Judge.

    Peeling back the layers one finds the facade of a public image is undone as the real fruits are revealed. There is much more to the man than meets the eye. Our battle is spiritual and involves an enemy and agents who practice deceit. One might say some are performing a fine job in a foreordained role as a "hireling" or "tare".

  17. This may sound stupid to some–and no offense is meant toward anyone— but how many REALLY UNDERSTAND the parable of the wheat & tares as the Scriptures reveal it? what does this have to do with anything? EVERYTHING! If you do not understand this parable–how many others have you not understood properly? what does that say about you? How could you be peacemakers if you do not even understand some simple Scriptures? Well, the simple answer is–you would not understand HOW to bring about peace–thus you cannot be useable for that purpose in the kingdom! this is what is wrong in the NOW UCG!!

    Anony Jon