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.
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.