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Member Letter from Dennis Luker

July 1, 2010

Dear Brethren in Christ,

Challenge and opportunity. In my first letter to you as the new president of the United Church of God, I have much to discuss. As we read the accounts of the first-century Church of God in the New Testament, these twin themes of challenge and opportunity appear again and again.

Christ commands us to rejoice when we suffer trials as a result of our beliefs—for standing up for Sabbath keeping, for observing the same biblical festivals that the apostles and early Church did, for rejecting the many pagan practices that crept in centuries after Christ, for loving and forgiving one another when so-called conventional wisdom says we should exact revenge and strike back. This present world, submitting to the authority of the fallen archangel Satan, hates these things. When we stiffen up against the ways of this world and follow the living Head of this Church, Jesus Christ, we are blessed even though a deceived world may think we are cursed.

As we set a lasting example of love and obedience that will be remembered long into the coming Kingdom of God, we must be careful not to fall prey today to resentful thoughts, motivations born of pride or emotional impulses that can lead us astray. We cannot allow ourselves to become lax and deceived—for as Peter wrote, “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Many of you, like my wife, LeeAnn, and me, have been active members of the Church of God for years, perhaps decades.

As longtime members and servants, we’ve unfortunately sometimes seen this spiritual tragedy unfold among people who should know better. Today (in fact for months as we’ve recently learned), this tragedy is repeating itself in part in Latin America.

You’ve probably already read or heard that the Council of Elders recently directly intervened in Latin America and ordered the removal of Leon Walker as the regional coordinator for that area. Mr. Walker has served for many years as a teacher and an administrator, and both out of respect for that prior service and for the hope that he might see the scope of the terrible spiritual errors that were being committed, we deliberately refrained from providing details earlier. Given recent actions, we must now disclose the full scope of this emerging tragedy.

As president, it is my sad duty to inform you that Mr. Walker and most ministers in Latin America are now openly attempting to divide our members in the region, and have to a certain degree attempted to enlist the support of members and ministers in the United States. Together with the Council of Elders, we in this administration are moving swiftly to protect our members and our Church, and we will do so with the full authority and power available to us. To those few who falsely think that the United Church of God is not being directly led in full authority by Jesus Christ, I must warn those who embrace a spirit of rebellion that appropriate action will be taken.

This is a serious situation that deserves and requires your earnest prayers. As I wrote recently to ministers, we are making a considerable amount of documentation about the Latin America situation available to you and our ministers, which discloses the truth of the matter and refutes in detail the false charges and allegations made by others. (If you desire more information about how this tragic situation came about, you can read further background information for yourself online at the UCG members Web site later on Friday at members.ucg.org, or click on this file “Background to Leon Walker and Latin America,” or call or write for a paper copy.) In the interest of accountability and full disclosure, it is a lengthy document. It is not pleasant reading, particularly when one can openly see how trust was betrayed and shattered.

Let me speak plainly. I personally have known and worked with Leon Walker for many years, and it grieves me deeply to read his own words that attempt to divide and pull away our ministers and brethren in Latin America. It also personally makes my heart ache to know now that these divisive activities have been going on for months, including efforts to wrongly influence ballots for the Council of Elders.

Brethren, let me be clear: This type of deceived governance led by a well-respected man represents the very reason that hundreds of ministers collectively chose some 15 years ago to embrace and refine the administrative structure that we now have. We have seen the destructive outcomes that “one man rule” in a Church of God organization can wreak, and this current experience in Latin America underscores the reason we changed our model of governance 15 years ago to include safeguards from this happening again. I believe both that Christ led us collectively to embrace the form of Church government that we now have, and that He has blessed and sustained us even amidst the challenges we have experienced over the past decade and a half.

We have the faithful and unbreakable promise from the true Head of this Church that the gates of the grave “shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18)—that it will never die out. As we collectively yield and surrender our individual wills to God’s perfect will, this Church will not only survive, it will prosper and grow!

It is also no surprise, that we read over and over again throughout the Bible that we are to pursue with all of our might that important spiritual quality of love—love for God and love for our brothers and sisters in the Church of God (Matthew 22:35-40). True love promotes unity. True love comes from spiritual surrender, from turning our lives over to the living God, from yielding our self-will to His divine will.

As you all well know, it is easy to quench love with unnecessary anxiety and fear. To combat this, Jesus Himself directs us: “Do not worry about your life… Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Luke 12:22, 25, New International Version throughout). He underscores this by adding, “Since you cannot do this very little thing [adding an hour to your life], why do you worry about the rest?” (verse 26, emphasis added throughout).

Illustrating the mighty power available to Him, Christ noted that it was a “very little thing” for Him to have the capacity to expand our length of life, something for which we have no ability or capacity. In this same context, He tells us what to do when fearful or anxious: “Seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (verse 31).

As we seek His Kingdom, we as members must offer up our lives as “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God,” which as Paul describes, is our “spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).

We know what makes the Church grow. We know that when we are in the active process of spiritually transforming our minds and yielding to God, then we can actually “test and approve what God’s will is” (Romans 12:2). When we know what God’s will is, then we can confidently yield and follow the leadership of Christ in achieving the mission we were all called to support and accomplish—that of preaching the gospel and preparing a people for His coming Kingdom.

You may have read or heard of the open door set before us to air our Beyond Today TV program nationwide on WGN America beginning July 11. I wish that you could see and feel the energy and enthusiasm at the home office as our production team and presenters prepare for that amazing and exciting long-awaited opportunity.

To succeed in our mission and grow, we must continue to have your prayers and your positive living example. This present evil world must be able to see God’s way of life in action. We must daily demonstrate how this way of life is indeed possible, even in the midst of the chaos, fear and greed that encompasses most of this age.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the words of Paul, where he states, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19, NIV).

In deep Christian love,

Dennis Luker, President

July 2, 2010 - Posted by | Council of Elders, General Conference of Elders, Home Office, President's Office |

27 Comments »

  1. Dear Mr Luker

    Thankyou for this information. While disclosure may discomfort wrong-doers, it is certainly more productive than gossip and rumours. Members are also answerable to God for the way they respond to issues. Thankyou for treating us as responsible adults (hopefully in the spiritual as well as the intellectual state).

    Warmest regards
    Mavis

    Comment by Mavis Stucci | July 2, 2010 | Reply

    • Thank you so much Mr. Luker for your sermon this Sabbath. Your concern for God’s church and God’s work was obvious. I am so pleased that the counsel asked you to serve at this time. I am still not sure of the exact details of the situation in Latin America, but I do not think I need to know the details. In the end, it is in God’s hands and he will see that everything is resolved for our good and for the unity of the church.

      Comment by Victoria E. Nelson | July 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. Mr Luker
    You have a huge responsibility in front of you but we feel you are the person God has chosen to handle it.
    God Bless you and our Church!

    Comment by Barb Hancock | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  3. Thank you for your letter, Mr. Luker. It is very encouraging, and a good reminder of God’s promises to help and sustain His church. I doubt many of us envy the position you are in right now. We’re praying that God gives you abundant wisdom, strength and peace of mind to help the Church during this turbulent time.

    Comment by lauradscott | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  4. My spirit within me is overwhelmed at the news of our Father’s Latin America Work – yet, I know that the prince of the power of the air of this world has always sought division in whatever Work our Father and His Holy One creates. Since the days of his iniquity and coveteousness (Ezekiel 28:11-19; Isaiah 14:12-17) he has taught rebellion and led humanity astray from the knowledge of humility and holiness and seeks to destroy all of humanity – our Father’s offspring. While he seeks to destroy humanity who does not know their right hand from their left hand spiritually – how much more does he seek to destroy the Work of the Ancient of Days and His Holy One. Just as the Son of man overcame Satan, we too, will overcome him through the Might, Power and Strength with which He leads us.

    Concerning Romans 12:1 of which you have referred to, I am reminded of what David said through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saying, “The mighty God, even the LORD, has spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence, a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him. He shall call to tbe heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people. GATHER MY SAINTS TOGETHER UNTO ME (“And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other – Matt. 24:31), THOSE THAT HAVE MADE A COVENANT WITH ME BY SACRIFICE, and the heavens shall declare His righteousness, for God is judge Himself (Psalms 50:1-6).”

    We must be strong and of good courage trustng and relying on Him – the Son of man is our BANNER (and will soon be the BANNER for all nations) and He will lead us gloriously to the honor and praise of His and our Father, the Ancient of Days, as He is judging and seeks His glory as Jesus Himself has said.

    Comment by dwight stewart | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  5. Thank you for being open about the circumstances surrounding events. To make information available even to the least member, according to the ablities you have been given. I appreciate being allowed to be involved in your life decisions and being given a chance to pray about this.

    Comment by Norbert | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  6. Very encouraging letter! Certainly in these times it’s so easy to get discouraged and downhearted, but the support that we get from each other is amazing. When we stop putting ourselves first it’s really amazing how much peace and joy can fill our lives. Hopefully we can all grow more towards loving each other just as Christ said for us to do instead of being divisive and seeking our own selfish desires.

    Comment by Ben | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  7. To be fair, I think you should have waited until you met with Mr. Walker upon his return and discussed these matters before posting this. It seems very hurtful.

    Comment by Natalie | July 2, 2010 | Reply

    • Hi Natalie,
      In all fairness, the Council sent several messages to Mr. Walker to meet but he chose not to.
      Please read Mario’s report on Chile and you will read about some of the things that have going on and are now surfacing.
      Thankfully the brethren have a Shepherd that will look out for them. This is a severe trial on all the Church but we have always been brought through them. Heb 13:5
      Best, GVW

      Comment by Glen White | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  8. I was hoping that Mr. Luker as the new president would try to unite us – so far, I am very disappointed. I cannot understand how people find this encouraging! My hear is aching.

    Comment by Michelle Rothwell | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  9. Thank you for the openeness of this process especially sharing the letters and actions of Mr. Walker. It’s clear that we’re going through a sorting out period in the Church of God and when people don’t know the facts they tend to side with personalities. Thanks for sharing the facts.

    Comment by Doug Collison | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  10. Hello Mr. Luker-Thank you for willingness to serve in your present responsibility and taking on the tough decisions as they come to you. It is sad to realize some of the choices made by some have been in the making for some time. We here are with you and the Council all the way. We appreciate the firm action that has had to be taken thus far-Christ demonstrated the same leadership during His ministry.
    God Bless and the brethren here are all supportive of United and the committment we have all made when UCG was created.

    Comment by Glen White | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  11. “As president, it is my sad duty to inform you that Mr. Walker and most ministers in Latin America are now openly attempting to divide our members in the region, and have to a certain degree attempted to enlist the support of members and ministers in the United States.”

    I read a lot of letters saying that the Ministers in latin america are trying to divide the church, but never read about how are they doing it. I think that we need the facts. Im going to a church in Mexico and love my brothers and sister, and I already lost many friends when we separate from Worldwide and now just to think that I may face the same thing again it brings me down.

    Its a Satan’s thing to let us down in our emotions and make us feel week and bad about things that are out of our control, I hope this thing get resolved soon.

    Let God give you the wisdom and intelligence to take the best decicions for our church.

    Comment by Jonahtan Alvarado | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  12. Why we are censored?? pongan en practica lo que predican..

    Comment by Claudia | July 2, 2010 | Reply

    • Who is censoring whom? Your comment is still here.

      Comment by Basil Kopey | July 9, 2010 | Reply

  13. Dear Mr. Luker
    Thankyou and the Council of Elders for sticking to the rules of association agreed to in 1995. I am thankful that you agree that only God is incharge of his church and this will become more evident as we be with God he will be with us. What ever the “Work the Ministry” endevors to do they are in reality following up on the “Work of God” which begins with a calling.Sadly the recent events in Latin America seek to nulify the “Work of God”.This sounds like the “Work of Ahab”.

    Comment by Jim Lapp | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  14. Do you think the ministers are employed by the council or by the total of Gods people?

    Do you think all ministers, all the way to the president
    should be using medicare and a supplement if they are 65 and over?

    Do you think our actions toward others, including how the council treats our ministers should be self serving or serving others in kindness and respect?
    Bettey williamson ,Ft Smith Ar church

    Comment by Bettey Williamson | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  15. May the Lord God bless and keep you and LeAnn.
    May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
    May He lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.

    Comment by Judy Lemon | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  16. Thank you, Mr. Luker! You’ve walked into an administration that’s dealing with an evolving crisis and all indications are that you’re the right man for the job. Thank you for making information available to us, so that we can see that the church is following the example of Christ and the apostles.

    Even though the letter is about a hard time the church is going through, it’s an encouraging letter that points in the right direction. Hard times mean we must be doing something right and Satan’s trying to stop us.

    God’s church can’t be stopped, whether by forces outside it or, unfortunately, in.

    Thank you!

    Comment by Susan Durnil | July 2, 2010 | Reply

  17. I am a little perplexed as to the reason the council did not send an ambassador, of the council, if they feared Mr. Leon Walker was causing division before he left for region?

    Since Mr. Dennis Luker has chosen to place this out in a public disclosure one would assume that they would provide Mr. Leon Walker with the same podium for airing the stance he has taken.

    After all it appears there is a lot of reading between the lines and supposition. I don’t read in the scriptures that there is a Fruit of the Spirit of God that provides such.
    Rather, we look to the fruit of one’s actions. (all concerned)

    Yes, in a corporate world there is this strict code of responsibility to “Your Boss” and you can be fired for refusal to follow his demands. But one must realize all of us work for God and we serve him first, and then man. Is Mr. Walker serving the Father and Jesus Christ, the Body of Christ, then president and council?

    I am concerned that these letters from the home office only provide one side of the story as they accused Mr. Walker of doing.

    I know there is another side to all passing emails and letter. I would like to hear both sides of them; since this is placed on a public forum we should have access to all of the minutes, emails, and letters (from private council meetings, inclusive). FULL Disclosure!

    If we are to judge in this matter we need all of the information clearly in front of us, and with God’s Spirit we can conclude what God allows us to discern through His Spirit.

    Let us stop dividing the Body of Christ! Forget these Corporate Rules and Laws. I think the commandments and biblical writings with God’s Spirit are significant to govern the Church of God (not the corporation).

    Tom Kosharek

    Comment by Thomas Kosharek | July 2, 2010 | Reply

    • I fully agree with your comments,Tom. We all need balance and maturity and discernment these during these trying times. It is encouraging to know of others seeking truth and enlightenment! We all need more of the whole story,with respect for all involved. Then proper actions and choices can be made and decided.

      Comment by Doug Koshman | July 4, 2010 | Reply

    • Mr. Kosharek. You are right, we all need to hear both sides. Last Mr. Luker`s letter of July 09 recognizing we all can commit mistakes is ok, including the Council of Elders and he himself. I am from the latinamerican area, I am investigating both acts from the home office and and from the ministry from latinamerica. We have to be very carefull in giving our verdic so fast. We need to examine all the facts, we must fervently pray OUR GREAT GOD and fast for this episode of church·s trial to come to an end with good results. I send a massage to Mr. Luker saying him, that one solution to the problem is having a conversation face to face with all involved to clear all things. As he says we must humble ourselves. We are in the same boat, we believe the same things. practice the same things. Let·s do our best to preserve unity. I dont want to be divided, I and my family want to continue doing the work of God TOGETHER WITH ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH AROUND THE WORLD. I don·t know the members from Kenia, Africa, but I always pray for them, so let·s pray to OUR GOD AND OUR ELDER BROTHER AND LEADER JESUSCHRIST TO INTERVENE AND GIVE SOLUTION TO THIS SITUATION.

      Comment by William | July 11, 2010 | Reply

  18. Thank you SO very much for your encouraging words . Mr. Luker. I wish the brethren in our local congregation (central america) would be able to listen to that letter or at least read it, but I sadly believe that it won’t happen. I am not currently attending the local congregation due to bad attitude and mistreatment from one of our local leaders in this area. But I think the brethren deserve to listen to what the position and explanations of the council are . Oh well, the damage has been done , many people are confused , let’s pray one another in order to get back to calm , unity and peace.

    Comment by Jean | July 3, 2010 | Reply

  19. Mr.Luker:
    My husband and I heard your sermon today and want you to know that your passion for the church came through. We can see the love you have for the church and the love you have of service.
    We will set aside a day of fasting and want you to know that
    we will continue to ask God to give you the strength and courage as well as the new council to do what you must no matter how difficult it may be. Thanks again for
    the beautiful message and take care.

    Comment by della mazzei | July 3, 2010 | Reply

  20. Ahmen! Ahmen! Amen!
    Kudo’s to Christ!
    Thank you Denny! You said what we needed to hear.Continue to submit yourself, as I know you will, and with direction from the Counsel of Elders, under Christ all things will move forward!
    Smart decsion by the counsel to ask Mr. Luker to serve in this role.
    We as a Church and Family can move forward with Zeal in submission to Christ, As Head of The Church to do the Work! Like we used to!
    Fasting in submission to GOD and Christ will only move us all forward!!
    I can hardly wait! I’ve been waiting for soooo long for the zeal we used to embrace whole heartedly!
    Miss you both big time here in Phoenix!
    We’re moving forward, Onward under Christ!

    Comment by David Alan Jutson | July 3, 2010 | Reply

  21. Thank you for our commission to pray and fast. With Christ as Head, all things are possible! We know the part we have in doing the work.

    Comment by Christina | July 5, 2010 | Reply

  22. We continue praying for God’s Church and the properly constituted current leadership in the CoE and the Home Office.

    We pray that God’s will and the success of the churche’s mission will be sought and personal feelings and interests set aside.

    While there will always be different views and prefferences in such matters as the location of the Home Office and strategies on how the gospel should be preached, the fact is these are purely administrative and strategic issues. They do no warrant actions that break up God’s church or forment factionalism based on personalities within the Church.

    We are excited about the great door God has opened for His truth to be broadcast through the Television medium.

    Comment by Mike Mukarati | July 12, 2010 | Reply


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