Mario Seiglie Gives Update From Chile
[The following update was written by Mario Seiglie, who was sent to Chile to examine the state of the Church in Latin America. This letter was written by him to the Latin American brethren of the United Church of God.]
July 1, 2010
Greetings from Santiago, Chile! It’s an honor to address you as the representative of the President and interim Regional Coordinator of the Spanish areas, Dennis Luker, and the Council of Elders.
This past Sabbath, June 26, we met with 135 brethren in Santiago and the next Monday, with 28 brethren in Temuco. We had an opportunity to clear up many questions people had. It’s always very important to get the information at its source. I was sent to Latin America to explain some administrative changes that have happened in the Spanish region. Leon Walker had been replaced as Regional Coordinator of the Latin American area by the then president, Roy Holladay, and he did so with the backing of the Council of Elders.
Then, the new president, Dennis Luker, was appointed to be the interim Regional Coordinator of the Spanish area, which is all done according to our Constitution, Bylaws and Rules of Association of the United Church of God, an International Association. Mr. Walker is an employee of this Church and receives his salary from the home office in Cincinnati, Ohio. His superior is the president of the United Church of God, and there has never been any doubt about it.
I can inform you that when United began in 1995, I was the pastor and president of the churches in Chile. Back then, we unanimously decided among the pastors and ministers of the Latin region that we didn’t want to establish an inter-american council, but just have national councils in some areas, and that we would be administered from the home office in the United States. Mr. Walker agreed and he was accepted to the position of Regional Coordinator over the Spanish area by the then president of the United Church of God in the U.S., David Hulme.
Mr. Walker began to receive his salary from the home office in the U.S. He was never chosen by the pastors of the different regions—as now a document has appeared where an inter-american organization is said to exist. I was the president and pastor of the Chilean churches for the first six years of United’s history and I have never heard of such a document. We can’t find any such document at the home office nor is there any knowledge of such a document in Chile.
In Chile, the official Constitution of the United Church of God established in 2002 mentions in its article 30 that the pastor and president shall be appointed by the Regional Coordinator of the United Church of God, an International Association. Here is Article #30 translated into English: “Article 30 – The directory will consist of the president, secretary, treasurer and directors. The president, who will also be the director of the entity and the directory, is not elected. He is the pastor of the congregations in Chile and as such, is appointed by the Director of the Spanish Area of the United Church of God, an International Association.”
Nowhere in the document is there any mention of the pastor having the right to elect or remove the Regional Coordinator over him. This supposed “Latin Constitution” that all of a sudden has appeared from nowhere, where it says the pastors of the Spanish region have the right to elect or remove their own Regional Director, doesn’t even have a date on it! So, according to the Chilean law, it has no value until it has been duly registered.
What I can tell you is that our official UCG Web site for Latin America was taken over by the person in charge and it was used to propagate information about a group of ministers in Latin America that are now following Mr. Walker. The organization is being called on the Web site “The Latin American United Church of God.” We are very saddened by what has happened and things are slowly normalizing. These are the facts.
I can also notify you that President Dennis Luker, as interim Regional Coorinator of the Spanish area has replaced Saul Langarica, the pastor and president in Chile, with Jaime Gallardo, a veteran Chilean minister who is now the new pastor and president of the United Church of God in Chile.
We understand, brethren, that this has been very difficult for all of us and we know God has a purpose for it that he will eventually reveal. Stay strong and remember the words of the apostle Paul, “No one wins an athletic contest without obeying the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5, CEV).
This Sabbath we will again meet on the 13th floor of the Panamerican Hotel in downtown Santiago, Calle Teatinos with Huerfanos, at 2:30 p.m., and later, at 6:00 p.m., we will have a question and answer session.