UCG View of the Sabbath, Exhibit A

The following paper was originally posted online at Inside United: Realtime and later withdrawn, and rightfully so.  Some have asked me if all the elders in UCG realize that John Elliot was one of the authors of the paper.  I cannot answer that question, but I can again put it out for all to read.  It is eye opening that the author of this paper and subsequent writings would be elevated to the COE.

How do Members of the United Church of God Observe the Sabbath Day?

Questions have arisen from allegations of purported “Sabbath breaking” in Latin America.

In striving to “contend earnestly for the faith “which was once for all delivered” (Jude 3), ministers and members of the United Church of God hold as a major tenet of belief the observance of a seventh-day Sabbath. The precious knowledge of the Sabbath and its intent for humanity (Mark 2:27) was one of the critical doctrinal pillars restored at the founding of the United Church of God in the mid-1990s. Indeed, it remains one of the core stated Fundamental Beliefs of the Church today: “We believe that the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath of the Lord our God. On this day we are commanded to rest from our labors and worship God, following the teachings and example of Jesus, the apostles and the New Testament Church.”

Recently some questions have arisen from allegations of purported Sabbath-breaking by members in Chile. Before those are addressed directly, let us review some critical elements of worshipping God on the seventh day, including Sabbath teachings from the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ.

While the command to abstain from regular work appears clear for the majority of Church members, there remain areas of observance that are not fully defined and sometimes require an administrative decision from Church leaders. Jesus Himself raised and answered certain issues about the attitude and intent in which we observe the Sabbath Day.

The instituting of the seventh-day Sabbath of course took place at the beginning of human history, where God Himself “rested [and]…blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:2-3). The direct command to observe the Sabbath day is specifically later codified in the Ten Commandments: “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work” (Exodus 20:8-10).

Habitual violation of the Sabbath day was one of the reasons that God allowed ancient Judah to be led into Babylonian captivity. As the prophet Jeremiah warned, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day…nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers’” (Jeremiah 17:21-22).

So we have a clear and direct command from God concerning the Sabbath day. The United Church of God fully embraces and teaches this command, following the example of Jesus and the first century Church.

While the command is clear, the global implications of observing it occasionally require a decision as to intent, purpose and application. For example, for Church members living closer to the north or south poles of the planet, the sun may never fully set. If Church members were to adopt a possible Pharisaical approach, they would potentially end up observing the Sabbath for weeks at a time! This of course is not the intent.

Jesus Himself taught much about the spiritual intent of the Sabbath, declaring Himself to be Lord of the Sabbath (and in effect making the Sabbath the true “Lord’s Day”) (Matthew 12:8). For those Christians who would attempt to define Sabbath-keeping in a rigid legalistic way, Jesus Himself pointed out that “the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless” (Matthew 12:5). He of course refers here to the fact that the priests were required to perform a considerable amount of heavy labor on the Sabbath and Holy Days, stoking huge fires and slaughtering animals for the required sacrifices. On the Day of Atonement, a considerable amount of manual labor was required by the priests to complete an elaborate and complex sequence of animal sacrifice, even though the priests would be fasting on the day. The sacrifice of a 1,000-3,000 pound bull, as well as several other animals, was no easy task.

Other exceptions, as Jesus taught, involved minor surgery (in the form of circumcision), the rescue of farm animals and, of course, doing good on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:12). Christ was very clear about what God expects from observing the Sabbath: “If you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7). Teaching about Sabbath observance during His last Feast of Tabernacles during His earthly ministry, Christ warned about a legalistic approach that could make the Sabbath a burden instead of a joyous experience worshipping God. When it came to fulfilling the Sabbath Day, Jesus taught that His Church should use spiritual discernment: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Are we pure in intent and do we have our whole being focused on worshipping each and every Sabbath?

Accordingly, there is no question as to the ever-lasting command from God—confirmed by Jesus—that we are to abstain from regular work and create time and space in our lives for direct worship of God on the seventh day. Observing this command makes us directly stand out from others in the world who embrace another day, or no day at all.

Today in the 21st century, sometimes the nature of certain acts on the Sabbath may not be clear from the biblical record. For example, can a physician who is a member of the United Church of God render medical aid in an emergency situation (including the laborious act of re-setting a broken bone)? From the direct example of Jesus, we know that this is a permissible act. What about other instances, such as driving long distances to attend Sabbath services?

Christ Himself warned of adopting a Pharisaical attitude, judging others whom we think may be acting in a fashion that breaks the Sabbath. Recently, such an unfortunate situation appeared when a Church family in Chile came under fire from newly invented charges that cast doubts on the integrity of the members, the United Church of God, an International Association, and some of its leadership.

The following information is being provided to counter these unproven allegations. As these allegations have been unfortunately and maliciously repeated on Internet forums, some have wondered whether a doctrinal change could be in the making regarding the Sabbath. Certainly, nothing of the sort is true, nor is it even possible under the current bylaws and operating principles of the United Church of God. A few facts easily dispel all the rumors and also validate the permanency of our Church’s Sabbath doctrine.

Regarding this specific situation, here is an overview: A member family in Chile founded an infant day-care business in 1997. They observed the weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Days before that time, and have continued to do so since then. On Friday evenings during winter months the sun sets 19 minutes before the government-regulated closing time of 6 p.m. Fully intending to keep the Sabbath in a responsible and accountable way, the family used some UCG documents to find a good-faith solution to their problem. Seeing precedent, these members left work in advance of the start of every Sabbath, and did not work on any Holy Day to comply with God’s holy Sabbath command for every Sabbath and Holy Day.

In the first 12 years of operating their facility in this manner, no pastor or minister ever commented on how the day care center and associated school was conducted with regards to its owner’s observance of the Sabbath and Holy Days. Following a full decade of observing the Sabbath and Holy Days using this approach, during a meeting in 2009 an unexpected statement about their operation was made—yet no discussion or follow-up was made at that time, nor has the Church ever formally reviewed how the family conducts their business concerning Sabbath observance in the shortened daylight periods of the winter. While the family maintains a strict Sabbath and Holy Day policy, some recent questions have prompted them to now formally ask the Church to review it and make suggestions on how to improve it.

The family states that they have never personally worked on a Sabbath or Holy Day, in accordance with their personal beliefs and the Church’s long-time teachings. Clearly, their situation involves government law that does not allow their type of facility to close 19 minutes before sundown on the shortest day of the year, nor on Holy Days that fall on weekdays. Only recently has their good-faith Sabbath-keeping solution come into question. Consequently, they are reassessing the situation and have requested direction from the Council of Elders.

On Holy Days, the business relies on non-member employees to care for the children, which is similar to other situations involving businesses owned by Church members.

In this case the family involved has now become the target of vicious rumors, with Internet jurors rushing ahead to pre-judge, slander and condemn anyone associated with the situation— and this before their request for input and guidance has even been heard and responded to. The driving motivation seems to be a need to quickly discredit the Church and certain leaders, rather than proper concern for the family or the Sabbath.

It is indeed unfortunate that such a case has become a lightning rod for dissent and uninformed and unproven allegations. Perhaps if we listen to this married member couple describe their situation, we can get a sense of the issues they are seeking input about.

When they were asked about the circumstances of their business, they responded as follows:

“Both of us are certified teachers from the University of Chile and began working in public schools and with great effort faithfully kept the Feast days (normally without pay), since on those days they don’t generally permit vacation time, yet we never failed to keep the Sabbath and Holy Days.

“In 1997 we decided to start a day care center with just 10 children and my wife quit her job working in a public school. We run the day care center, which now has 300 children (from 1 to 7 years old), only from Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. On the Sabbath, the day care facility does not operate. In the winter, when the sun goes down about 20 minutes earlier than 6 p.m., darkness still begins around 6 p.m. and we leave at 5 p.m. Some parents do pick their children up later than 6 p.m., but there are no classes or business operations during that time.

“So the issue we have is with the two to five Holy Days that fall during the week days each year. On those days we do not work, we do not personally operate the facility nor earn any money from it. We rest on those days, keep them holy and attend services. Also, we reduce the activities to a minimum on those days at the day care center because the Chilean government requires by law we keep it open during the weekdays.

“According to the Chilean law #19,864, article 3, it says: ‘Child Care Centers are those educational institutes that take care of children during the day, until they begin their basic education, and provide an integral education.’ To fulfill this task we have to conform to the statute Nº 19,864 which states the Department of Education establishes the regulations for forming day care centers and the programs for the basic teaching of day care centers. This day care program is strictly bound by the School Calendar and the decrees from the Department of Education that regulate our operations and establish we can’t close ‘unless it is an emergency’ (Article 5, decree Nº 7895 of Dec. 10, 2009).

“So we are governed by these regulations, and although we own the day care center we can’t alter the operation of the center from Monday to Friday—because even though we run a private day care center, we have to abide by the law and the norms that are established and are strictly enforced by the government. Again, all activities and classes from Monday to Friday are from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. We never work on the Holy Days and leave our work at 5 p.m. on Fridays and the same is the true for the beginning of the Holy Days. We have never missed a Holy Day or a Sabbath in all our years and keep it holy by resting, not working and faithfully attending services. We have an agreement with the staff, none of which are members or keep the Sabbath, that they completely run the facility and receive the income of those days instead of us.

“Through the years, we didn’t discuss the issue of the Holy Days while Mr. Mario Seiglie was our pastor, and neither with Saul Langarica for the first six years of his tenure and we just rested and regularly attended all the Sabbaths and Holy Days. We thought it was a private matter on how we resolved this issue. It must also be stated that we were never suspended for this matter. It was never mentioned as a reason for the suspensions. The subject was broached in 2009 and 2010 by Mr. Langarica, but no decision was made about the matter.

“We have thought that our situation is similar to what is mentioned in two sections of the UCG papers on Sabbath keeping. First, the one titled, ‘People Working in the Medical Field Who Keep the Sabbath,’ which says, ‘If, however, you are referring to people who own a care home, other principles apply. There are certain routine chores that would need to be done on the Sabbath in these homes, just as in a private home. Some examples of routine chores would be meal preparation and clean up, as well as making beds; however, we recommend that these activities be kept to a minimum… By comparison, the farmer in ancient Israel would need to feed his livestock on the Sabbath. He would not, however, plow or plant a field—that is, undertake work that could and should be done on other days of the week. The two principles that guide us about the Sabbath are that it is a day on which we congregate with others in God’s Church to worship Him, and that it is a day on which we rest from our regular work.’

“We read in another paper, ‘Remember the Sabbath to Keep it Holy,’ this same principle. ‘Today, judgments may need to be made regarding dairy farmers, ranchers, physicians, nurses, nursing home operators, home health care workers, and others as to how to observe the Sabbath command in their circumstances. Yet we must be consistent in our application. We should teach Sabbath observance from the strength of biblical principle and not from exceptions to the rule. The principle is clear—all that is in a believer’s direct control should be allowed to observe the Sabbath rest.’”

“This, we believe, is our situation, since we do not have ‘direct control’ over this issue of closing down the child care center during the weekdays. Yet, we don’t use this as an excuse to work or not rest on those few days during the year, since we do control our own lives and so do rest, do not work, do not make money on those days and do attend services and worship God on those Holy Days.

“We have submitted our case to the Doctrine Committee, but the chairman of the Doctrine Committee indicated the right procedure is to first present our case to our pastor and then to the regional director in the way we keep the commandment to observe the Sabbath and the Holy Days, so they can guide us in what to do. In this way we can remove any doubt about the purity of our motives and of our conscience that some criticize and misinterpret with only partial information or through third parties that have defamed us and have no idea what we actually do.

“We have started the process to review our case in the appropriate manner and with the right authorities, and ask people to refrain from passing judgment on our situation. If it is decided we are doing things wrong the way we keep the Sabbath and Holy Days, we respectfully solicit their counsel and guidance on the matter to have it corrected.”

After reading the family’s concerns about how they keep the Sabbath, how can one say they are working on the Sabbath themselves? How can one accuse Church leaders of advocating breaking God’s holy Sabbaths? How can one infer that United Church of God, an International Association, is “changing its Sabbath doctrine”?

The answer is, of course, that it is completely unwarranted to derive such unfounded conclusions.

Perhaps more importantly, how would you want to be treated by your brethren if someone had a similar concern about you?

Hopefully, as their spiritual brothers and sisters, we should be supporting their efforts to properly keep the Sabbath holy. In this case there is no intentional Sabbath-breaking, nor collusion involving friends, family or ministers, no condoning of Sabbath-breaking and certainly no trace of any doctrinal change. Rather, they and we are all part of a spiritual body that is striving to obey God more fully and lovingly encouraging each other as we grow (Ephesians 4:16).

This topic provides a good reminder that society sometimes brings complexities to one’s application of God’s laws. The issue above is typical of issues that have arisen since biblical times when judgments were sought from Church leaders about applying God’s law in their particular day and age (i.e., 1 Corinthians 10:25-33). Today, leaders of the Church continue to be asked how to apply the law of God to different situations that arise with our members around the world. Members are encouraged to seek pastoral counsel in matters of uncertainty, just as the members in Chile are doing.

For further information on this topic please refer to the booklet: Sunset to Sunset, God’s Sabbath Rest and other official United Church of God documents.

This paper is disturbing in how some things are being presented in regards to the Sabbath day. However, we do need to remember that it was withdrawn and Dennis Luker did apologize for any confusion it might have caused. However, that’s not the end of the story, either.


  1. I would like to point out that while they did redact the paper, the official reason for doing so was not doctrinal.

    “To maintain accurate communication and address administrative issues in a timely way, the Church publishes online information in the “Letters from the Chairman and President” section on the members Web site, continuing a long-time communication practice from senior leadership.

    It was brought to our attention that the document from Dennis Luker and Melvin Rhodes titled, “How do Members of the United Church of God Observe the Sabbath Day?”, involves matters that are still being reviewed by the Church relative to a particular Sabbath observance question.

    Consequently, that document has been removed from this section of our member’s Web site. The parties involved have sought counsel from the Church on this matter, and we want to allow time for the Church to fully evaluate the facts and circumstances and make an official position and recommendation to them for their situation.”


    So there has still been no condemnation of the paper for its errors. It was removed to allow the Church to fully consider the matter at hand. And while they came to the correct conclusion on the Sabbath observance (a conclusion altogether different from that above), there was still nothing said about previous conclusions and doctrinal errors. In fact, Rhodes and Luker promoted this paper to begin with (even if they didn’t write it) and punitive measures were taken against ministers that pointed out doctrinal errors in this paper (as well as the fasting one).

    I state this just for further context on the paper itself and how this still extends beyond just John Elliot’s hand in its authorship.

  2. Andrew wrote: “I state this just for further context on the paper itself and how this still extends beyond just John Elliot’s hand in its authorship.”

    What is important is not so much about who wrote it but who supports it and gives it a free pass, even to the point of elevating one of the authors (even if not the author, singular) to a high position of leadership and trust.

    It has boiled down to cronyism and politics. The core of the apple is rotten.

  3. Hi John and Andrew,

    I am truly sorry this letter caused you so much concern. Please allow me to include UCG’s beliefs, for those who find this post by the title. I realize you have already read them, so please understand that I do not bring them up to argue and antagonize you in any way. Quite the opposite, I hope that it helps lay the groundwork for eventually healing the spiritual division, even if not the physical one.

    We in UCG believe we should remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. The authors of this letter have stated it was not intended to modify UCG’s Sabbath teaching. It was not an approved statement by UCG’s Council of Elders, and was not presented by UCG’s doctrinal committee.

    By contrast, the following statement presented by the Doctrine Committee was unanimously approved by the Council of Elders this year:

    “After studying the material that has been provided from a couple in Chile, the Council of Elders, after full review and rendering due diligence, is prepared to issue the following statement in regards to observing the seventh-day Sabbath and Holy Days in a proper manner to uphold the Fourth Commandment.
    The United Church of God, an International Association, has a long-standing teaching on the subject of owner-operated businesses in relation to the observance of the Sabbath and biblical Holy Days. If a business is solely or majority owned by a Church member, then the business should close on the Sabbath and the Holy Days.
    There are some exceptions, as Jesus Christ gave Sabbath-keeping principles in Scripture in this regard, which would apply to healthcare and retirement facilities and dealing with dairies and farm animals. But, day-care centers and schools do not fall under these categories. Therefore, the Council of Elders stands by the authority of Scripture in our lives and the consistent position of the Church which requires that such businesses, as long as they are solely or majority owned by a Church member, be closed on the Sabbath and the Holy Days.
    We deeply appreciate the sincere request of the members in Chile in asking for the Council of Elders to render a judgment.”


    Mr. Luker apologized for any confusion caused by the white paper regarding the practical application of the Sabbath:


    As quoted in Mr. Luker’s second letter above, more information about UCG’s teachings on the Sabbath can be found here:

    · Letters on Keeping the Sabbath as Ranchers, Caregivers or Business Owners
    · Principles of Sabbath Observance: Eating Out on the Sabbath
    · Remember the Sabbath to Keep It Holy: Business Questions
    · Beginning of the Sabbath: In Extreme Northern and Southern Regions
    · Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest

    All the best to both of you.


  4. Clint wrote: “Mr. Luker apologized for any confusion caused by the white paper regarding the practical application of the Sabbath”.

    Agreed, and, as I’ve said before, if things were left alone at that point, perhaps the outcome would have been somewhat different. Hence, “Exhibit B”. To apologize is all well and good, but when the support and other public comments continue to be more of the same, then of what value is an apology?

    It has a striking parallel to the alcoholic who apologizes for last night’s behavior but won’t acknowledge that they need to stop drinking.

  5. If every COG leader should apologize for the writings of others, than many have much to answer for indeed.

  6. @clinporter: I believe you have missed the point. A leader expects others to fulfill their obligations and takes actions when they do not. Company heads have been fired for allowing their subordinates to get out of control. How much less should a church keep a rein on their employees? Furthermore, again, to elevate someone who is at the center of controversy is to invite trouble. The current administration and COE have lost all credibility with me, and this latest appointment (because strictly speaking, he was not balloted into his position) only confirms that they still don’t get it.

  7. Clint, I know you work for United and feel the need to provide the official “conclusion”, and stated beliefs. But there’s more to it than just simple words can do. A stated position doesn’t mean it’s The actual position. I was in an organization who’s stated policy on paper involved taking attendance and minutes of meetings. The de facto situation was that it was never done. Might be on paper, but on practice?

    As well, Luker may’ve apologized for it. But him and Rhodes pushed it forward as heir official position to begin with! There is a serious problem with that alone.

    But as John points out it didn’t end with te apology. I’ve seen sermons redacted at the Feast when someone speaks and gives a position contrary to actual doctrine. That’s not been done for Mr Elliot’s well known positions and statements. In fact, they still see him as qualified and fit to lead.

    And now they’ve actually had a discussion on whether there’s a need or not for a doctrine advisory committee? Without that committee, guess what paper would’ve still been on circulation.

    I want to believe the best about United, believe me. The last thing I want is for it to fail or fall apart. But what is happening is very much not good and not something “stated positions” and reassuring words can wash away.

  8. All I know is we’ve had dinner at the Lukers’ home on a Friday evening, and those folks have developed a more thoughtful, sincere and meaningful set of personal traditions for ushering in and commemorating the Sabbath day than anyone I’ve personally known in the COG. My wife and I came away realizing they take the Sabbath very, very seriously, although they never make a public deal about it.

    At some point we realize we simply have to state what we believe, and others must to choose either to believe it or not. If people don’t believe each other, there’s really no basis left to have a productive discussion about it. It sounds like these letters have had a very significant impact on you, so I pray that you are able to find some clarity or peace in your own conversations with Mr. Luker, Rhodes or Elliott. Also, Mr. Elliott has also written a great deal of material on the Sabbath on that same blog, which may be useful in taking in a more complete picture of his views on the Sabbath and how to keep it.

    I’m glad that you want to believe the best about United, and I’m happy to believe you, just like you asked! I’ve noticed that sometimes we don’t go about it in the most effective way, though. If you don’t mind, I’d like to make a small suggestion to everyone for how we might accomplish this more effectively.

    Test example: UCG posts a tweet saying “Council discussing need or not for “prophecy advisory committee” and “doctrine advisory committee.”

    Now, that seems a bit weird to me! Is UCG doing away with the Doctrine Committee? Do they feel the Prophecy Advisory Committee is redundant? What’s going on here? Perhaps I should post it on Facebook or comment on some blogs. That way I can use crowd-sourcing to possibly get an answer very quickly. Seems like an efficient solution.

    But then, I remember I run a risk. What if I inadvertently create a false perception that the Council will get rid of the Doctrine Committee? What kind of speculation would that lead to, and would it benefit the Church? Would some conclude the CoE is not serious about doctrine? If I felt their ability to lead had been compromised, could I myself be compounding the problem? I think of Proverbs 17:9. Could this drive a further wedge between people in the Church? I also think of Proverbs 25:9-10. What if I was the one who misunderstood? I recall that I will be judged by my words, and one day I will be required to give an account for every idle one. Finally, I decide I’d like to make Proverbs 26:20 come true, and the Matthew 18 template, though not designed for this, is probably the best way to do it. The great thing about the internet is there’s a step before the first step–I may not even have to talk to anyone at all!

    So I would then go to the CoE website at coe.ucg.org and search for “doctrine advisory committee”, at which point I’d find out that there are actually three separate committees: the Prophecy Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee for Doctrine, and the Doctrine Committee (which oversees the Prophecy Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee for Doctrine). Then the tweet becomes much clearer, and I found out without starting a fire I couldn’t control. If I was concerned others were confused by it, I could now even post or tweet my own message to clarify it, now that I have confidence I’m speaking the truth… regardless of whether I disagree with the Council on other matters. I believe God would be pleased with this because I would be following both the literal and spiritual intent of the law for the end goal of promoting peace and unity in the body of Christ.

    Now, perhaps all this is beyond what is technically required of me. Maybe UCG is to blame for poorly wording a tweet so that it requires “presumed knowledge”. But I feel this approach better represents Paul’s “more excellent way”.

    The Law is an amazing thing and Grace is an amazing thing. If our interpersonal relationships were like a car, the Law would be the engine and Grace would be the oil. On paper, the engine looks like it ought to work just fine all by itself. But once we hit some point with each other where we decide to drain the oil, we’ll find it seizes up every time. Let’s please try not to do this.

  9. clintporter wrote: “So I would then go to the CoE website at coe.ucg.org and search for ‘doctrine advisory committee’, at which point I’d find out that there are actually three separate committees: the Prophecy Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee for Doctrine, and the Doctrine Committee (which oversees the Prophecy Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee for Doctrine).”

    I’m not sure what I did wrong then, because when I searched for that, I came up empty. Since the only other report I’ve heard about the committee is that other blog, I decided it probably did not mean much. Twitter can be a great tool, I suppose, but it can also lead to a lot of misunderstandings in part because of its imposed brevity.

    Of course, other forms of communication can lead to a lot of misunderstandings as well if not properly used.

    Just stating what you believe is of no value if your actions don’t match your words. The old saying (don’t recall the source), “I can’t hear what you’re saying because your actions are speaking so loudly,” comes to mind. I don’t really want to rehash the past few months again. I’ve seen the inconsistencies, and I’ve seen the apparent attitude of “do it our way or hit the road”, often with little to no explanation for their actions.

    FWIW, I have checked out John Elliot’s other blog articles, not just the two I have mentioned before. To me, it paints the picture of a belief system that says the Sabbath is sacred because church leaders say it is. The picture I come away with is that church leaders decide what is appropriate and what is not, and lay members are obligated to follow those guidelines no matter what.

    In fact, to me, sums up the entire current situation. The belief of some that the council was elected and therefore must be followed no matter what does not seem to me to be the spirit of cooperation. The idea that they were put into power because they have a mandate and all previous administrations and councils did not seems to be at the core of their actions.

    I believe God called me, not the church. I am responsible for how I keep the Sabbath. I am responsible for being part of a work that exemplifies Christ’s example and not just talk the talk. I am responsible for associating with like minded individuals whenever possible.

    As far as some other leaders go, in the end there are many decent and well-meaning people in UCG. However, being decent and well-meaning does not a good leader make.

  10. Clint, perhaps I should take some time to back up a bit and explain myself as well. I understand that you’re not trying to antagonize, and I hope you understand I’m not either. Though I may no longer be a member of United, I am concerned for what I see there for the sake of my family and friends that remained, and the people there that are still hurting and what anything more would do to them. (In fact my concern barely applies to the people doing the day-to-day work and administration as much as the leadership). I wish United the best of success–they have the best media presence, a great new website that I love, and a good selection of study resources beyond anything offered by others groups. To see any of that fall by the wayside would be a great loss for -everyone-.

    So I personally have a peace of mind. But that doesn’t stop me from being concerned and looking at things with an analytical mind (much the same way I view most things in the world).

    On the matter of Luker, even, I have no ill-feelings to the man and do not doubt his committment to the Sabbath. Personally, I feel he was given a terrible job (“Here, the ship may or may not sink right now. You’re our new captain”) but I do feel he has allowed himself to be used in ways that are… not quite becoming. Take for instance his original endorsement of the paper–if that conflicted with his personal beliefs and view of Sabbath sanctity, what was he doing endorsing it? And while I accept his apology (despite my trepidation with what the apology was actually given for), that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a problem there to begin with and now we’re echoing back to those same problems. To me, it’s like saying I know God has forgiven me for past sins, but that doesn’t mean the past sins were not a problem, and if I’m drifting back to those then it’s any less of a problem.

    I do not want to see United go down the drain, but my “fear” (and I don’t say that to mean I’m anxious and actively sitting in fear of it) is that it’s slouching that direction.

    Regarding further discussion: I’ve read many of John Elliot’s statements and other blog entries. His ones on the Sabbath seem to contradict each other. His sermons also include statements about things I know that are not taught as doctrine by United.

    I did plenty of searching (even checking many reports and minutes meetings) but found nothing about there being two separate committees that my searching would return. In fact, the August 2010 meetings speak of the standing committees of the Council by name. I checked the bylaws and saw nothing about the other committees. My take away from that was that they were discussing if they needed a propechy advisory committee (since there isn’t one for the Council) and the Doctrine committee.

    At that point, I believed there was only one doctrine committee which they were looking at doing away with entirely. Which is concerning for obvious reasons.

    BUT after your statement, I checked again. Scoured earlier minutes, even. It would seem the “advisory” committees are committees that report to the Council about matters and are not the Council’s own committees. This then changed my understanding of some of the statements in the by-laws (which should’ve been obvious prior).

    So now my understanding has changed to this… there are two committees. One of Council members (the doctrine committee), one of non-council members (the doctrine advisory committee). And now they’re discussing whether there’s a need or not for the non-Council committee.

    This take away for me is actually more concerning. Whereas before, I found the idea of them doing away with the entire committee to be of concern, this is actually a bit more concerning to me. Now I’m seeing that this is an the idea that such decisions and committees are for the Council instead and again concentrating more and more power in their hands. Basically for me, the end result appears to be the same.

    As John mentioned, I have no doubt that many people there have the best of intentions. But that doesn’t mean that leadership is a given. And given what happened last year, given the uses of power and leadership, given what can be seen in Council reports, minutes, actions, statements, etc… the warning bells are ringing very much to me. I would like nothing more than to be proven wrong, but having been right too many times maybe I’m just cynical.

  11. I am of the opinion there’s a fine line between being cynical and being cautious.

    Life’s journey is a long run and what happenned recently is just one short moment in that event. It would be fair to say there is an uncertainty about where present things will precisely lead because it’s never as simple as “you will know them by their fruits“. The whole Joe Tkach episode is another moment in time that testifies to this.

    A man who did right things, who’s actions during the receivership were highly looked upon by many many people, so too his service to elderly widows. Who showed his loyalty and also publically voiced his high esteem towards Herbert Armstrong before all the congregation. Sometimes you will not know them by their fruits, only time will tell.

    I believe it’s prudent to be cautious.