[Updated October 8, 2010]
September 17, 2010
We have produced another document in our ongoing communication effort. It contains important notes for your consideration—especially since online forums and social networking sites continue to discuss it.
This document answers questions leveled at some on the Council of Elders about their doctrinal stance.
We hope this further explanation will help allay concerns some have expressed on this subject. The document may be shared.
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
Dennis Luker, president and Melvin Rhodes, chairman
September 14, 2010
[The following message was sent to the United Church of God ministry today.]
To All Elders,
In a further effort towards reconciliation with the Latin American ministry, a meeting was held at the home office on Tuesday, September 14, 2010, with Eduardo Hernandez. Mr. Hernandez has served as pastor of the Colombian and Ecuadorian churches for 30 years and as pastor in Venezuela since the inception of the United Church of God.
Also present at the meeting were Dennis Luker, president of UCGIA; Melvin Rhodes, chairman of the Council of Elders; Aaron Dean, treasurer and Council member; and Ralph Levy and Alec Surratt, both of whom speak Spanish and have been involved in the Spanish work for years.
The meeting was very cordial. Everyone present expressed their opinion as to how we can best move forward to bring about a full reconciliation. It is hoped to hold further meetings after the Feast of Tabernacles. Your continued prayers are deeply appreciated.
Melvin Rhodes, chairman
Dennis Luker, president
September 14, 2010
Ten Commandments Booklet Updated and Reprinted
Earlier this week we completed and approved for printing an updated version of our booklet The Ten Commandments. This has been one of our most popular booklets, with more than a quarter million copies printed and distributed since it was originally produced 12 years ago (that works out to more than 1,700 copies sent out each month for the last 12 years).
This newly designed version has been converted to color with photos added to make it more readable and attractive. Printing on lighter paper will make it less expensive to mail, which will save us money on postage. The updated version will be available on our Web site soon.
Several years ago we started a lengthy project to update our booklet library, also redesigning them and converting them to color. With this booklet, 27 of our 33 booklets are updated and redesigned. Tom Robinson has done tremendous work in updating the content of these booklets, and Shaun Venish has done a great job on their redesigns.
We look forward to completing updates on the remainder of the booklets this coming year so we can get to work on several other needed new booklets.
Scott Ashley—Booklets managing editor
September 10, 2010
President Luker and Chairman Rhodes have posted two new documents on the member’s Web site in the “Letters from the Chairman and President” section. These are additional explanations concerning the “Resolution to Rescind” that appeared on the May 2008 General Conference of Elders annual meeting ballot.
Letters from the chairman and president can be found under the “resources” tab on the home page of the member’s Web site.
Some of the material in these documents may not appear relevant, as they may address issues that you are not personally concerned about. But, if you’re one who has ongoing queries, these papers are to help you more clearly answer questions regarding these issues.
September 10, 2010
We’re very pleased to announce that a brand new hymnal has been completed for our Spanish-speaking United Church of God brethren.
The new hymnal is a direct copy of the recently completed hardbound English hymnal. Up until now, our Spanish brethren have been using the slim purple hymnal from the late 1990s. The new hymnal has all 191 songs, compared to the only 74 hymns available to them in the past.
Shipments of the new book will be sent to UCG Feast of Tabernacles sites in Latin America for distribution to the brethren. They can then take them back to their local congregations after the Feast. Copies will also be distributed to our Spanish-speaking members in various cities in the United States.
The five Latin American Feast sites are in the following locations. More than 400 brethren are expected to be in attendance:
- Coroico, Yungas, La Paz, Bolivia
- Tongoy, Chile
- Anebre, Melgar, Tolima, Colombia
- Panajachel, Sololá, Guatemala
- Veracruz, Mexico
You can read full Festival site descriptions in the September 2010 issue of El Comunicado, our Spanish member newsletter.
We trust and pray that this new hymnal will be a helpful and encouraging addition to our member’s festival experience.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
September 8, 2010
We are very pleased to report that the week of August 29 through September 4 produced our best Beyond Today television response so far. A total of 761 responses were tabulated from a mix of WGN America, Vision TV Canada, local cable-access stations, Web site requests and snail mail responses. Of these, 601 (79 percent) are directly attributed to our Sunday morning WGN America time slot.
The TV program that aired that week was titled: “God’s Holy Day Plan: Blueprint for Salvation.” It was presented by Darris McNeely, with discussion in the third segment by Gary Petty and Steve Myers. While emphasizing the need for keeping all of God’s Holy Days instead of the world’s holidays, the main focus was on the Feast of Trumpets and Jesus Christ’s return to this earth to set up His Father’s Kingdom.
More than 4,100 Beyond Today responses have been tabulated in less than two months, since July 11, when we began our Sunday 8:30 a.m. EDT time slot on WGN America.
Also, since adding our post office box mailing address to the program, we have begun to receive literature requests by mail, and some contain helpful donations to further the work of God.
Much thanks goes to our dedicated media team working very hard at the home office in Cincinnati. Please continue to beseech God to bless our honest efforts to preach the good news of His Kingdom.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
September 7, 2010
[The following article appears in the September issue of United News and is reproduced here for our “Inside United: Realtime” readers.]
UCG’s new treasurer recounts spiritual and physical miracles from his own life experiences that taught him a strong faith in Jesus Christ as the living Head of the Church.
In Service to God
by Aaron Dean
Many of us likely remember the trying times in 1979, when a receivership was imposed on the Worldwide Church of God by the attorney general of the state of California. What most do not know was that an important transaction was taking place 6,000 miles away on the very days the legal battle started. The Ambassador College Bricket Wood campus had sold, and the proceeds from the sale of the former campus were being transferred to the Church’s bank in the United States.
About $3 million were in danger of falling into the hands of the receiver, who would then control the funds and spend them as he wished. Attorneys retained by the Church tried to stop the transfer and keep the funds out of the receiver’s hands through every legal means possible. To do so, however, would have locked the funds and started a chain of events that would have led to bankruptcy and reorganization. To everyone’s surprise, neither option came to pass. The fund transfer went through.
An Unexpected Blessing
The Church’s bank, instead of holding it for the receiver, deployed a special, seldom-used legal allowance. To both the receiver’s and the Church attorneys’ surprise, the bank used the funds from the sale to pay off and close the Church’s total outstanding lines of credit and current bills of —guess what—about $3 million. Meanwhile, tithes from members and coworkers went to Herbert Armstrong’s office in Tucson, Arizona, where the Church’s work was carried on by paying bills as they were due day by day.
Newspaper headlines did create fear, however. Some Ambassador Auditorium performers, not understanding the different types of receivership, refused to perform unless paid up front in cash. For weeks we carried a briefcase full of cash to pay performers right before they went on stage. Except for these odd situations, the Church managed to function fairly normally.
Looking back, it’s obvious to me that Christ decided that the receiver would not be given that choice.
The outcome? The Church never went bankrupt, which kept the integrity and honor of the Church and God’s name throughout that crisis. The lawyers thought we had lost the battle when the money transferred. But actually God won and protected the Church in His way for His purpose, putting the Church in a stronger financial position than before. This unanticipated act of God prepared the Church for the remarkable growth it had beginning with Mr. Armstrong’s return to Pasadena in 1980 until his death in 1986.
God’s plan is always done, often in a manner that tests all of us. It creates a positive opportunity for us to see ourselves and understand others, to grow in grace and knowledge and become more like God. Likewise, it gives God a chance to sift through those who wish or claim to “decide” God’s will for Him. God directs things in our personal lives as well, using little events to prepare us for future things.
The God I wish to serve as treasurer knows the future and guides things to His glory and purpose often beyond human reason. I’ve never felt qualified for any job in God’s service. In 1974 I was asked to work on the Church’s corporate aircraft. That job required chef skills, but Mr. Armstrong wanted an Ambassador graduate. While a student, I had asked the food service director, a culinary arts graduate, if I could help prepare the many special formal dinners at Ambassador—for food—not in preparation for any job. When the need arose on the G-II jet on the day of my graduation, I was drafted to serve, although cooking ended up being the least of my duties.
Training Following Near Tragedy
As many will remember, Mr. Armstrong suffered a heart attack in 1977. While he recovered over the next few years, I was asked to take accounting and law classes to expand my skills so that I might ultimately be of better service to the Church. I took a few law classes and began pursuing an accounting degree at California State University–Los Angeles (CSULA) with the goal of sitting for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam after graduation.
When Mr. Armstrong returned to Pasadena in 1980, I had taken most of the accounting classes in the program at CSULA. Mr. Armstrong had me withdraw from school to once again help him with his far more important mission—carrying the gospel to world leaders. My work with him as his aide never allowed me to finish the program or take the CPA exam, but the added education did help when he was presented with budgets and wanted to discuss other financial decisions during those years.
With Mr. Armstrong’s death in 1986, new leadership took the Church in a different direction doctrinally and organizationally. Disregarding promises he made to Mr. Armstrong, within months his successor systematically removed me from certain positions and duties for what are now obvious reasons. I was reassigned to be over Ambassador food services and also asked to teach in the business major.
To fulfill accreditation requirements for the college, a number of faculty members needed to upgrade their academic credentials. The accounting discipline already had the necessary advanced degrees for accreditation, so I returned to CSULA, this time to acquire a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Management and Finance. That degree was completed just prior to the consolidation of the college in Big Sandy, Texas, where I taught various business classes until Ambassador’s close.
I didn’t ask for or expect the current assignment as treasurer. It uprooted me from a pleasant life in Texas, an enjoyable job, a wonderful congregation with friends I cherish and away from our comfortable home and first grandchild to be born in January.
I didn’t want to move. But from personal experience I know that God prepares us throughout life for His service, and it sometimes takes us in directions we cannot see.
Where Will God Now Lead?
Only God truly knows the direction He is taking us. We have to have the faith to know that He is leading. Our plans, though often with noble intent, only truly work when they conform with His plans. As I have personally witnessed, when we are not in alignment with God’s will—however well-intentioned—God creates events that override the decisions made and influenced by human reason, sometimes to our frustration, but always for our benefit and according to His will. I have seen that happen time and again.
The president has asked that I review all of our financial operations to see whether improvements can produce additional efficiency and effectiveness in helping him oversee the use of God’s tithes and offerings. I provided a similar service when I was working for Mr. Armstrong.
In fact, all of the funding for the highly successful overseas Ambassador student projects and some support of international youth camps worldwide came by creating new efficiencies from existing funds and programs associated with Mr. Armstrong.
Despite what many thought were limited funds at the time, God provided amazing global growth for The Plain Truth magazine between 1980 and 1986; and by 1986 the Church was spending $27 million annually on television media buys. Having this example and knowing what we now know and have experienced, how much can we do now?
Fulfilling Our Dual Commission
We can maximize the funds that God inspires the members and coworkers to tithe and donate. We still must train ministers and help members; we must preach the gospel. Can we do it in a more cost-effective manner?
We will look at insurance, travel and other overhead costs to free up funds for our dual commission of preaching the gospel and preparing a people. We will use advances in technology to help lower meeting costs.
Most of all, we must do our part in yielding to Christ and having the faith that He will guide us. Having this attitude is far more important than any credentials or human ability. But make no mistake; our Church must operate within history-making, challenging times. Our current budgets are much lower than what was available during Mr. Armstrong’s latter years. But we still serve the same God the Father and Jesus Christ, and we still have the same commission and the same highs and lows in spiritual and physical trials. If we yield our minds and hearts to God, we will complete what God has laid out for us to do.
In these trying times, just as during the receivership, some may see the Church trapped in front of a 21st-century Red Sea. But as He has done in the past and as He will do in the future, God will part the waters and take us through as we follow His Son. We will stand in awe of Him as the impossible becomes reality.
As we approach the Fall Festival season, let us all seek to be aligned with God’s will, for then we as His Church will receive power to achieve that will. UN
September 3, 2010
The Good News & Booklets available on the Apple iPad
We are excited to announce that the Good News magazine and several of our booklets are now available for download within the Apple iBookstore. These electronic publications can be easily downloaded by the estimated three-million-plus iPad owners by using the free iBooks app (application). Even owners of the newer versions of the iPhone (4) can down the available publications via the iBooks app.
The iPad was released in April 2010, and since that time we have been investigating various methods of how to make the Church’s literature easily accessible on this popular device. In just the past few weeks we have been able find and develop solutions that now make it possible for an iPad owner to easily search for our publications.
An iPad user may search for an interested topic within the iBookstore—for example “Ten Commandments,” “Holy Day” or “Sabbath”—and quickly be directed to one of our free publications. The iPad user may then download the publication to their library for later reading. After reading, they can rate or comment on the publication and see other publications by the United Church of God. At this time, we have the September/October 2010 Good News and eleven of our booklets available in the iBookstore. We will have more of our publications available over the next few weeks and months.
The Good News magazine and Digital Publishing
Many magazine publishers are beginning to offer their magazines in a digital format for the iPad. This new format allows content to be immersive and interactive. An example would be the digital format of the WIRED magazine that allows readers to watch videos, rotate images or listen to audio, all within the digital magazine. Our media team has started to look into how we can begin to offer the Good News magazine in a digital format.
We are starting out by offering a basic version of our magazines in a digital format that allows readers to easily page through the magazine. We are using the free MagCloud app (available for download via the Apple app store) to distribute The Good News and Vertical Thought magazines in a digital format. The magazines are available in the “Religion” and “Teen” section of the MagCloud app. Over the next few months we will be looking into developing our own app for the iPad that will allow readers to download the latest Good News in a digital format that could include embedded video, audio and additional photos that will make the GN magazine more interactive.
Our media team is really excited about offering our publications on the latest Internet enabled devices. We will continue to seek out ways and fine tune our efforts to be sure we are about our Father’s business of preaching the gospel message using the technology that is available. Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to take this message of hope to the entire world.
Internet Managing Editor
September 2, 2010
This week president Dennis Luker recorded a special pre-Feast-of-Trumpets video message on the “About Our Father’s Business” (AOFB) series titled “Abounding in the Work of the Lord.”
We trust this 17-minute presentation will be an inspiring preview to the Holy Day season just ahead.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
Septiembre 2, 2010
Con la explosión de información y los cambios vertiginosos que estamos viviendo diariamente, se nos hace difícil mantener nuestro enfoque en la prioridad más importante, nuestra relación con Dios. ¿Cómo manejar esta sobrecarga de información? ¿Qué podemos hacer para no sentirnos bombardeados? ¿Cómo mantener nuestro enfoque en la meta? Encuentre las respuestas en esta edición de Las Buenas Noticias.
Además, la Decadencia y declive de las naciones nos da una perspectiva profética de lo que está por venir y paralelos de hechos historicos que nos dan una mirada al futuro.
-Departamento de medios en Español.
With the explosion of information and rapid changes that are happening daily, it is hard for us to keep our focus on the most important priority, our relationship with God. How can we deal with information overload? What can we do so we don’t feel so overwhelmed everyday? How can we keep our focus on finishing the race? Find the answers in this issue of Las Buenas Noticias.
Plus, “The Decline and Fall of Nations” gives us a prophetic perspective on what is to come and historic parallels that gives us a glimpse of the future.
For the youth, dont miss “The Difference between Love and Infatuation.” How can we know the difference and what does God’s word say about it?
-Spanish Media Department