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The Sacredness of the Sabbath Day

November 9, 2010

Dear Ministers and Brethren,

The leadership of the Church has been accused of subtly watering down the observance of the Sabbath day. Papers have been written and circulated among the ministry and membership purporting this change, and Internet blogs and Web sites have run rampant with these write-ups and discussions. Some have assumed these claims must be true because the Church has not officially responded to these documents.

On October 15, in a President’s letter, I did address this subject. Quoting from my letter:

“A highly vocal few, particularly in online forums, have raised imaginary issues about the current administration and Council of Elders. These false issues center on recent letters published from Melvin Rhodes and me about the Sabbath day and about fasting. One of our letters, published shortly before the Festival season, confirmed the inviolate sacredness of the Sabbath day, but also discussed how one family in Chile was seeking counsel and resolution for a specific and non-routine issue regarding Sabbath observance…To be absolutely clear, nothing concerning the established teachings of the Church about the Sabbath has changed, nor is any change being considered. Further, given the established procedures set forth in the Church’s governing structure, it is impossible for the administration or the Council of Elders to make any doctrinal changes…”

Unfortunately, the inaccurate documents now circulating in some areas only selectively quote from either the original letter or my October 15 letter—choosing to ignore the fact that both letters emphasize the sanctity and sacredness of the Sabbath day. This memo by me seeks to once again clarify the situation. The Sabbath letter was written to explain the background to a situation that had developed in Chile, but it has become a doctrinal issue in the minds of some.

It is obvious that the title could be taken two different ways and would have been clearer if it had stated: “Facts Concerning a Chilean Family’s Personal Sabbath Situation.” The family from Chile was hammered, slandered and vilified over a period of weeks on the Internet concerning how they had handled this situation with the observance of the Sabbath. The implication on the Internet was that the leadership of the Church had given approval of how they handled the family’s situation. Consequently, the leadership was likewise being attacked on this issue.

Our letter went to great lengths to explain that no attempt is being made to change doctrine; yet, this is the charge. The letter was written to explain that we all believe in the sacredness of Sabbath, that we are not changing the teaching on the Sabbath, and to give the history of the situation in Chile. Two church pastors, in the span of nine or ten years, never discussed the issue with the family. We all might say that they should have sought advice from the ministry on this situation and that would be a fair statement. The family did make a good faith effort to resolve their situation by searching our literature to find precedent for their actions and based their decision on that research.

The letter was written to explain that once their decision was questioned, “given that the family has sought counsel and resolution from Church leaders, the specific issue will follow the traditionally accepted process.”

The Church for many decades has had to render judgments on Sabbath-keeping. The letter was hoping to clarify what happened, to demonstrate the sanctity of the Sabbath, and that an appeal had been made for a judgment in this situation. It was not a letter stating that anyone who has a business can keep it open on the Sabbath or Holy Days.

We hope this memo helps to give clarification. The majority of people we have talked to about the Sabbath letter understand that it was simply written to explain a personal situation. A number of Web links are listed below that further explain the Church’s teaching on various issues with regard to keeping the Sabbath.

Sincerely, in Christ’s service,

Dennis Luker

 

• Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest www.ucg.org/booklets/SS

• Letters on Keeping the Sabbath as Ranchers, Caregivers or Business Owners www.ucg.org/un/un0302/sabletters.htm

• Principles of Sabbath Observance: Eating Out on the Sabbath members.ucg.org/papers/sabbathobservance.pdf

• Remember the Sabbath to Keep It Holy: Business Questions www.ucg.org/un/un0302/sabbath.htm

• Beginning of the Sabbath: In Extreme Northern and Southern Regions members.ucg.org/papers/sabbathstarttime.pdf

November 9, 2010 - Posted by | Home Office, President's Office |

16 Comments »

  1. Thank you Mr. Luker. It’s very sad that this has to be addressed over and over again. It’s embarrassing to me, and should be an embarrassment to the whole church, that those who should know better are misrepresenting the obvious intent of your letters.

    Comment by Benny Butler | November 9, 2010 | Reply

  2. I can completely agree with you Mr. Luker that most of us that read the sabbath paper (I know because at least our entire congregation thinks the same, and I have friends all over the country who also share the same view) understood it was a simple clarification and not a change in doctrine. Unfortunately some people are looking for an excuse to make a case against the council…which needless to say, is nothing but satanic behavior. Stay strong and keep up the great work. Your sermon was so inspiring, our entire congregation was moved! We pray for you daily and whatever happens, you have our support as we have no doubt that God is guiding you.

    Comment by Natalie A. | November 9, 2010 | Reply

  3. Benny Butler says it all. I pray for the family in Chile. Those who perpetuate deceit need to remember that their words will be accounted for to Christ. Paul fought that same spirit in his day (eg, 1 Cor.16:8) – it is interesting how often Satan attacks when the Work makes a good impact, as with the TV program, as with the zealous little group in Hong Kong ready to begin serving a quarter of the world’s population! Think on the good things that have happened because of these attacks – like the Latin American brethren getting their information directly from Head Office in their own language, like the increased prayer and fasting and fervour for God’s work that true brethren experience in resisting this evil.
    1 Cor. 16:8.

    Comment by Mavis Stucci | November 9, 2010 | Reply

  4. It would appear that God’s people have a serious problem with a very vicious problem. That of GOSSIP. It accomplishes nothing but pain and heartache for everyone involved. Each word or thought that proceeds out of our mouths should contain love. Gossip is not love, it’s a form of lying God hates.
    It is apparent that God intends to do another house cleaning to prove who is sitting on a fence and who is going to stand up for God and Jesus Christ.
    I hope and pray that people will calm down and ask God for help to have a level head and a clean heart and to express love (agape) in all things and everything they do, or think. How can we rule in God’s coming kingdom when we act like this?

    Comment by Randall Foshee | November 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Randall, I think you’re right.

      I’m reminded of the three questions I ask my 4th grade students, which I first heard in a sermon a good twenty years ago: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

      If a comment is not true, kind, and necessary, it doesn’t need to be said. Fourth graders can get the idea pretty quickly. It’s pretty sad when adults, who are supposed to be setting a godly example for fourth graders, can’t get it.

      Comment by Susan Durnil | November 12, 2010 | Reply

  5. Thank you Mr. Luker
    I wonder how long it will take for this letter to be disected and misconstrued?
    Acts 20:29
    I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
    I pray that God will give the council insight on how to help that family in Chile who have been brought into the limelight over a personal need for direction.
    Kathy Sanny

    Comment by Kathy Sanny | November 10, 2010 | Reply

  6. Mr. Luker thank you for clarifying this further. However, you have to appreciate that you are the face of UCG and everything you say (no matter how trivial you personally view it) has a bearing on what people / members think of UCG and especially its administration.

    I personally didn’t have a problem with any of the letters you and Mr. Rhodes sent but re-reading the Sabbath Observance letter I can understand why some people have a problem with it. Subsequent letters have made absolutely clear where the administration stands but your biggest oversight has been to fail to understand why (some) members think it has a negative bearing on Sabbath observance.

    Some of us are complex / sophisticated thinkers while others simple thinkers. For the simple-minded that letter gives them room to interpret and modify how Sabbath should be kept while others understand that it (letter) dealt with a particular circumstance.

    To be able to move forward, we (especially the administration) need to acknowledge that the critics have a point. Please understand that these people were victims of Mr. Tkach’s subtle changes over a considerable period. So it is understandable that they would be suspicious of anything that APPEARS to be a deviation from the norm, regardless of whether this is real or perceived. Leaders need to understand that “perception is reality.” This is why when a wrong perception has been created you need to apologize and clear it up.

    Unless you show these critics that you honestly understand how they came to their conclusion then this matter will never be put to rest.

    Please keep up the good work. Christ is at the helm.

    Comment by Sakkie N. | November 10, 2010 | Reply

    • Very very well said. Thank you Sakkie.

      Comment by Mary Henderson | November 11, 2010 | Reply

  7. Thank you for the clarification. As a young member of God’s family, I have been confused as to what is going on since it all began, but as God will do for any of His children that pray for discernment, I am seeing some vicious attitudes coming from people who believe mere rumors as factual evidence, and the truth is being revealed to me through their attitudes and actions. Christ said to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove and these rumors are harmful and convoluted. I hope it all comes to an end soon.

    Comment by Elizabeth Showers | November 10, 2010 | Reply

  8. I am so saddened that these issues continue. It is taking away from God’s real teachings and work to have to keep dealing with the few that continue to stir up trouble. Frankly, I am tired of hearing about it, although I understand the need to address such things.

    Comment by Lorelei Nettles | November 10, 2010 | Reply

  9. I believe it is good idea to stick very close to the “trunk of the tree” when teaching about the Sabbath day. However sometimes circumstances require statements to be made that can seem to be as difficult to interpret as, “you are not under law but under grace” (Ro 6:14).

    Comment by Norbert | November 10, 2010 | Reply

  10. I wish this letter had addressed some of the specific criticisms…such as what literature the family was reviewing as UCG didn’t have published literature available when the family started their business…I assume it was WCG literature.

    Comment by Donna Robinson | November 12, 2010 | Reply

    • Do you think that WCG used to teach things that UCG doesn’t? Why do you think the majority of us in United are here, if not because of what we first learned in Worldwide? UCG is a continuation of what was started in WCG, not something new and different.

      Comment by Susan Durnil | November 13, 2010 | Reply

  11. It’s time to lay off this family. It’s none of our business. I get the feeling many of us need to get busy with removing the beam in our own eye.

    Comment by Benny Butler | November 12, 2010 | Reply

  12. I’ll say it one more time. Love, is the ultimate thing we must learn. Nothing if more important. Love doesn’t puff up, it’s not proud, it doesn’t PRY, it doesn’t GOSSIP!!!!
    Even on here, there is a form of gossip. It’s like we can’t SHUT OUT MOUTHS and exhibit LOVE.
    How can we rule ANYONE if we can’t even rule our own mouths or thoughts?
    Ask God for love, His love. Show love in all that we do brethren. Let you hearts become moldable clay in God’s hands.
    Eze 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
    May God speed that day!

    Comment by Randall Foshee | November 14, 2010 | Reply

  13. Denny,

    If they are treating you, the council, other ministers and this family the way they are publicly, how do you think they have treated us, the brethren, when no one is looking?

    If those ministers and their supporters are willing to openly gossip and slander about their peers and superiors and/or support those that do, what do you think the” have privately done to those under them who refuse to follow them (because following them requires abandoning God’s way)?

    If those ministers and their supporters hide behind secret names, conduct most of their warfare in secret, etc. how open and honest do you think they have been with us, the brethren in our dealings with them?

    If they are putting their own secret agenda before God’s in matters relating to the peaceful, Godly operation of the church, whose agenda do you think they have been pursuing in their actions toward us, the brethren?

    While they claim to follow certain procedures outlined in UCG documents, when you look at what they ask, it is carefully designed to ensure their agenda is progressed and they attain their goals. This is in stark contrast to God’s agenda for those who are leaders among His children to be impartial, objective, open and devoid of deceit. While, on the surface, it may appear they have conducted themselves rightly, how earnestly do you think they have striven to follow God’s instructions and UCG’s ministerial code of ethics when dealing with those under them, the brethren? Especially when they think none (who are important) will see or know?

    We are praying that God is causing many to do some serious THINKING. We pray that it is time that God will decide that His precious children have been abused long enough. We need true shepherds who will conduct themselves as such. We pray it is God’s time to make it so.

    Comment by Gary Jacques | November 15, 2010 | Reply


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