December 31, 2010
Greetings Fellow Ministers and Brethren,
The Council of Elders has prepared a document with answers to some of the more common questions asked of the Council in recent weeks. Council Communications Committee chairman, Darris McNeely, has subsequently recorded a video of the questions and answers for you to watch. The video is 15 minutes long and is now posted on the Council of Elders Web site.
Both an audio MP3 version and a Windows Media Player video version are available for download.
December 29, 2010
Listen to Dennis Luker’s sermon given at the 2010 Winter Family Weekend in Louisville, Kentucky, on December 25. The title is, “Beware of Satan’s Devices to Destroy Us.”
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
December 29, 2010
Listen to Steve Myers’ Friday night Bible study given at the 2010 Winter Family Weekend in Louisville, Kentucky, on December 24. The title is “God’s Armor and Unity.”
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
23 de diciembre de 2010
Estimados Ministros y miembros:
Como los primeros frutos del plan de salvación de Dios, tenemos una vocación asombrosa. Lo que Dios ha prometido a sus hijos e hijas fieles está más allá de nuestra imaginación. ¡Si nos mantenemos con firmeza vamos aheredar increíbles promesas! (1 Corintios 2:9-10).
Es por eso que en la Iglesia de Dios Unida tenemos la visión del reino de Dios firmemente arraigada en nuestra conciencia. Cada día los servidores dedicados en la oficina central y en oficinas de la iglesia alrededor del mundo trabajan largas horas para asegurar que el evangelio de Jesucristo y el reino de Dios sea predicado con más eficacia, y para que cada uno de ustedes tenga un lugar para adorar a Dios cada sábado, con ministros fieles a su servicio. Por favor sepan que esto va a continuar, a pesar de los desafíos internos que hemos enfrentado en estos últimos meses.
Escribiendo a nuestros hermanos en la fe alrededor del año 60 DC., el apóstol Pedro dijo a los hermanos que reconocía que “tengáis que ser afligidos en diversas pruebas” (1 Pedro 1:6). Señaló que este tipo de pruebas severas probaba “la autenticidad de vuestra fe, mucho más preciosa que el oro” (versículo 7). Nosotros sinceramente oramos que ustedes, también, sean cada vez más como ese precioso oro que es un tesoro para nuestro Padre.
Reconocemos que esa fe en Dios y su propósito se ve en ustedes y en la Iglesia de Dios Unida. Esta fe se produce a medida que nos aferramos a las preciosas verdades y principios que él, por medio de Cristo, nos ha revelado. Vemos que la fe se expresa de varias maneras: por el continuo servicio desinteresado y por el compromiso con Jesucristo, quién es el líder viviente de esta Iglesia; en las miles de firmas de la tarjeta enviada al Consejo de Ancianos, que fue muy apreciada; y en los muchos e-mails, cartas y llamadas telefónicas de ánimo. Talesexpresiones nos hacen sentir indignos de tanto apoyo y nos ayudan a sostener y crecer en nuestra propia fe en Dios en estos tiempos turbulentos. Por eso les agradecemos profundamente, más allá de sencillas palabras como estas puedan transmitir.
Creemos que la prueba actual dentro de la Iglesia de Dios Unida se está acercando a su fin. En los últimos días hemos recibido una serie de dimisiones de ministros y antiguos administradores. No nos alegrarmos de ver estas renuncias. De hecho, como el apóstol Pedro lo anotó, estamos afligidos. Sigue siendo muy doloroso ver nuevos grupos de la iglesia surgiendo en algunos puntos del país y ex ministros todavía publicando o haciendo declaraciones por el Internet con poca o ninguna base real. Basados en la informaciónrecientemente enviada a nosotros de una serie de fuentes, ahora sabemos con certeza que los ex ministros de confianza han sido y están ahora de manera activa y abierta tratando de arrastrar a miembros fieles, como ustedes mismos, hacia nuevos grupos. No obstante, van a encontrar que el hecho de separarse en otros grupos no va a poder resolver sus problemas.
El Consejo de Ancianos se encuentra en posesión de la documentación fehaciente que demuestra la complicidad de algunos ministros y miembros en esfuerzos secretos por socavar y destruir la estructura gubernamental de la Iglesia de Dios Unida. Estamos muy tristes de ver esto, y duele saber cómo algunos han dicho esencialmente una cosa respecto a la reconciliación o resolución de diferenciasmientras trabajan detrás del escenario con una agenda totalmente diferente.
Esta documentación, escrita por un ex administrador de la oficina central, pone al descubierto los esfuerzos organizados a muy alto nivel para llevar a cabo la separación. Ello distorsiona los hechos y en general refleja un prejuicio mental entre los que resquebrajan las actuales relaciones, intentando así de influir a los miembros de la Iglesia de Dios Unida para que los sigan.
Lamentablemente, si los eventos pasados pueden servir de guía para el futuro, la documentación pronto aparecerá en el Internet, junto a un variado “análisis”, tratando de tergiversar otra vez esta documentación de alguna forma para que se vuelva en una seudo “prueba” de males supuestos en elConsejo de Ancianos. Se dice que nosotros demandamos lealtad personal a los hombres. Esto no es cierto y ni siquiera podemos firmar un documento que afirme eso. Simplemente pedimos el servicio fiel de nuestros empleados y del ministerio de la Iglesia que los emplea, reconociendo que no todos piensan igual, pero que todos tenemos que trabajar dentro de la estructura que acordamos en 1995.
Hermanos, por favor, comprendan que hemos actuado para proteger al rebaño espiritual. Como sabemos por la historia, las separaciones y divisiones dentro de la Iglesia de Dios se han producido con excesiva frecuencia, incluso en los últimos siglos tener un solo cisma sería mucho. En su oración final antes de su crucifixión, Jesús mismo oró por sus discípulos: “Padre santo, protégelos con el poder de tu nombre, el nombre que me diste, para que sean uno, lo mismo que nosotros” (Juan 17:11,Nueva Versión Internacional, énfasis añadido). Según lo registra el apóstol Pablo, nosotros, como ministros somos enviados por Dios para “guardar lo que se te ha encomendado” (1 Timoteo 6:20). Creemos que esto subraya profundamente nuestra sagrada responsabilidad de salvaguardar la paz de las congregaciones de hermanos que se nos ha confiado servir.
Creemos firmemente, ahora como lo hicimos hace 15 años, que Dios Padre y Jesucristo guiaron directamente a cientos de ministros a reunirse en Indianápolis, Indiana, para formar lo que hoy es la Iglesia de Dios Unida, una Asociación Internacional. Creemos que Dios mismo estableció la asamblea que se convirtió en la Iglesia de Dios Unida y puso su nombre en ella, deseando que a través del poder de su nombre fuera una, como Jesús y Dios el Padre son uno. Siendo uno con Dios y Cristo por medio del amor, un poderoso don divino conmovedor que debemos impregnar en cada parte denuestro ser, permaneciendo como objetivo de todos y de cada uno de nosotros. Jesús mismo nos diceque el primer y más grande mandamiento es: “Amarás al Señor tu Dios con todo tu corazón, con toda tu alma y con toda tu mente” (Mateo 22:37) y en segundo lugar: “amarás a tu prójimo como a ti mismo” (versículo 39).
Todos nosotros, ministros y miembros por igual, tenemos este mandamiento de Jesucristo: “Por tanto, sean perfectos, así como vuestro Padre celestial es perfecto” (Mateo 5:48, NVI). Eso es de tan alto nivel, que todos nos quedamos cortos. Pero nuncadebemos dejar de alcanzar ese estándar, hasta el final de esta época humana.
Somos un pequeño rebaño, pero tenemos promesas inquebrantables y poderosas de Dios mismo. Como todos sabemos, para Dios no se trata de tamaño o cantidad. A través de la inspirada e inconmovible Palabra de Dios, sabemos que, al igual que el apóstol Pablo: “Todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece” (Filipenses 4:13). Este puede ser un versículo familiar para nosotros, pero ¡cada palabra es verdad! Al igualque el autor de Hebreos escribió: “porque os es necesaria la paciencia, para que habiendo hecho la voluntad de Dios, obtengáis la promesa” (Hebreos 10:36). Aquí sehabla del retorno de Jesucristo para establecer el reino de Dios sobre la tierra, ¡el mismo mensaje que proclamamos a través del poder del Espíritu Santo!
Para lograr el éxito a medida que avanzamos, tenemos esta recomendación de Santiago, el hermano de Jesús: “Humillaos delante del Señor, y él os exaltará” (Santiago 4:10).
Si es cierto que esté período marca el final de una larga prueba dentro de la Iglesia, debemos estar preparados para aprender humildemente de nuestros errores, donde hemos quedado cortos de la perfección del Padre, y debemos estar preparados para seguir adelante. Tenemos mucho trabajo en adelante. Creemos que Jesucristo ha puesto ante nosotros una puerta abierta (Apocalipsis 3:8), una puerta espiritual que incluye lo que estamos haciendo a través de la televisión, las publicaciones impresas y nuestra presencia en el Internet.
Esta puerta nos abre varias posibilidades para predicar con poder el evangelio de Jesucristo y el reino de Dios, utilizando todas las herramientas a nuestro alcance. Esta puerta nos conduce cada vez más a ser como Dios Padre, siendo uno con él y con Jesucristo, y ¡con diligencia y seriedad preparándonos para el servicio, tanto aquí en esta era física y en el maravilloso mundo de mañana!La gente en el mundo debería ser capaz de ver abiertamente esta esperanza que yace dentro de nosotros (1 Pedro 3:15), y nuestros propios ejemplos deben servir como testimonio vivo y prueba de esta esperanza divina (Mateo 5:16).
Mantengamos nuestra creencia y convicción de que “en la multitud de consejeros hay seguridad” (Proverbios 11:14). Creemos y sostenemos que, junto con la madurez espiritual, nuestro sistema de gobierno nos da poderosas herramientas para avanzar en el cumplimiento de la voluntad de Dios.
Bajo la dirección de Jesucristo, la Conferencia General de Ancianos permanece en su lugar para promover la estabilidad de la Iglesia. El Consejo de Ancianos se mantiene en su lugar para orientar y dirigir la Iglesia. La administración de la Iglesia permanece en su lugar para cumplir con las operaciones del día a día de la Iglesia como fue originalmente diseñada y prevista hace unos 15 años. Y, todos estos órganos de gobierno están en su lugar para edificarlos y servirlos a ustedes, nuestros apreciados hermanos, y para predicar el evangelio.
Por favor, siéntanse confortados al saber que vamos a seguir proveyendo pastores y ministros para que tengan espiritualmente un pacífico y nutritivo lugar en el cual se adore cada sábado y en los días santos. Ustedes tienen varios sitios a elegir para asistir y participar en la Fiesta anual de los Tabernáculos. Sus hijos tienen campamentos disponibles de verano e invierno, donde pueden aprender las verdades de Dios y cómo aplicarlas a medida que crecen y maduran. Ustedestienen el Centro Bíblico Ambassador, donde los miembros pueden asistir para obtener un profundo conocimiento de la verdad bíblica. Ustedes cuentan con una amplia gama de literatura, disponible en forma impresa o en línea en formatos cada vez más interactivos, junto con un aumento del programaMás allá de Hoy que está llegando a miles de personas nuevas por la televisión y a través de Internet.
Y de ese modo, creemos con todo nuestro ser, que esto es sólo el comienzo. Moviéndonos hacia adelante,creemos que estamos siendo preparados por Jesucristo para que haya más crecimiento. De cómo y cuando se logre depende de Dios y de la cabezaviviente de esta Iglesia, Jesucristo. Debemos prepararnos espiritualmente mediante una oración renovada, la meditación profunda y un ayuno sincero.
Mientras nos preparamos para avanzar, ¿qué vamos a hacer como miembros, aquellos llamados a salir, quienes constituyen la Iglesia de Dios Unida? He aquíla respuesta del profeta Jeremías: “Así dice el Señor: Deténganse en los caminos y miren; pregunten por los senderos antiguos. Pregunten por el buen camino, y no se aparten de él.” (Jeremías 6:16, NVI).
¡Dediquémonos a la unidad, al amor por los demás, buscando y logrando la perfecta voluntad de Dios!
Sinceramente, en el servicio de Cristo,
Melvin Rhodes, Director Dennis Luker,
A nombre del Consejo de Ancianos Presidente
December 23, 2010
Dear Ministers and Members,
As the firstfuits in God’s plan of salvation, we have an awesome calling. What God has promised to His faithful sons and daughters is beyond our fullest comprehension. We are promised if we remain steadfast to inherit incredible promises! (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
This is why we in the United Church of God have the vision of God’s Kingdom firmly planted in our conscience. Every day the dedicated servants at the home office and in church offices around the world work many long hours to ensure the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is preached with increasing effectiveness, and that each of you have a place to worship God each Sabbath—with faithful ministers to serve you. Please know that this will continue, despite the internal challenges we’ve faced of recent months.
Writing to our brothers in the faith around A.D. 60, the apostle Peter told the brethren that he recognized that “you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6). He noted that these types of severe trials proved “the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold” (verse 7). We earnestly pray that you, too, are becoming that precious gold in our Father’s treasure.
We recognize the faith—the faith in God and His purpose—that is being produced in you and in the United Church of God. This faith is produced as we hold fast to the precious truths and principles that He, through Christ, has revealed to us. We see that faith expressed in several ways: by your continued selfless service and commitment to Jesus Christ, who is the living Leader of this Church; in the thousands of signatures on the much-appreciated card to the Council of Elders; and in the many e-mails, letters and phone calls of support. Such expressions humble us and help us sustain and grow our own faith in God through these turbulent times. For that we thank you deeply, well beyond what simple words like these can convey.
We believe that the current long and hard trial within the United Church of God is nearing its end. In the past few days we have received a number of resignations of ministers and former administrators. We do not rejoice in seeing these resignations. In fact, as the apostle Peter noted, we are grieved. It remains deeply painful to see new church groups start up in some pockets of the country and former ministers still publishing or putting on the Internet statements that have little or no basis in fact. Based on recent information sent to us from a number of sources, we now know with certainty that former trusted ministers have been and are now actively and openly trying to draw away faithful members, like yourself, to new groups. As they will find, separating into other groups will not solve their problems.
The Council of Elders is in possession of irrefutable documentation that demonstrates complicity by certain ministers and members in secretive efforts to undermine and destroy the very organizational fabric of the United Church of God. We are greatly saddened to see this, as it hurts to know as a fact that some have essentially said one thing regarding reconciliation or resolution of differences while working behind the scenes with a completely different agenda.
This documentation, authored by a former home office administrator, lays bare organized efforts at a very high level to break away. It distorts the record and generally reflects a grievous state of mind among those who are fracturing current relationships and trying to influence members of the United Church of God into following them.
Sadly, if past events are any guide to the future, documentation will soon appear online, together with varied “analyses” of various stripes and colors, trying to again spin this documentation somehow into one more quasi-“proof” of the alleged evils of the Council of Elders. It is being said that we demand personal loyalty to men. This is not true—as we would not even sign a document that required that. We simply ask for the faithful service of our employees and ministry to the Church that employs them, recognizing that not everyone thinks alike but that we all need to work within the structure we all agreed upon in 1995.
Brethren, please understand that we have acted to protect the spiritual flock. As we know from history, separations and splits within the Church of God have occurred far too often—even one is too many—over the past centuries. In His final prayer before His crucifixion, Jesus Himself prayed for His disciples: “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11, New International Version, emphasis added throughout). As recorded by the apostle Paul, we as ministers are commanded by God to “guard what was committed to your trust” (1 Timothy 6:20). We believe this deeply underscores our sacred responsibility to safeguard the peace of the congregations of brethren we have been entrusted to serve.
We firmly believe—now as much as we did 15 years ago—that God the Father and Jesus Christ directly led hundreds of ministers to assemble together in Indianapolis, Indiana, to form what is now the United Church of God, an International Association. We believe that God Himself established the assembly that became the United Church of God and placed His name on it, desiring that through the power of His name that we would become one, even as Jesus and God the Father are One. Becoming one with God and Christ through love—a powerful and moving divine gift that must permeate every ounce of our being—remains the goal of each and every one of us. We are told by Jesus Himself that the first and greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37) and secondly, to “love your neighbor as yourself” (verse 39).
We all, ministers and members alike, have this command from Jesus Christ: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, NIV). That’s a high standard, one that we all fall short of. But we must never stop trying to achieve that standard, even to the end of this human age.
We are a small flock, but we have unbreakable and mighty promises from God Himself! As we all know, with God it’s not about our size or numbers. Through the inspired and unshakable Word of God, we know that we, like the apostle Paul, “can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). That may be a familiar verse to us, but every word is true! Like the author of Hebrews wrote, we “have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36). He speaks here of the return of Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, the very message that we proclaim through the power of the Holy Spirit!
To achieve success as we move forward, we have this direction from James, the brother of Jesus: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
If this time indeed marks the end of a long and sore trial within the Church, we must be prepared to humbly learn from our mistakes, of where we have fallen short of the perfection that is the Father, and we must be prepared to move forward. We have much work before us. We believe that Jesus Christ has set before us an open door (Revelation 3:8)—a spiritual door that includes what we are doing through television, our printed publications and our online presence. This door leads to ways where we can powerfully preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, using every tool available to us. This door leads to us becoming more like God the Father, becoming one with Him and Jesus Christ, by diligently and earnestly preparing ourselves for service, both here in this physical age and in the wonderful world tomorrow! People in the world should be able to see openly this hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15), and our own examples should serve as living testimony and proof of this divine hope (Matthew 5:16).
We maintain our founding belief and conviction that “in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). We believe and maintain that, coupled with spiritual maturity, our system of governance gives us powerful tools to move forward to accomplish the will of God. Under Jesus Christ’s direction, the General Conference of Elders remains in place to promote the stability of the Church. The Council of Elders remains in place to guide and direct the Church. The administration of the Church remains in place to fulfill the day-to-day operations of the Church as was originally designed and intended some 15 years ago. And, all these governing bodies are in place to edify and serve you, our precious brethren, and to preach the gospel.
Please be comforted in knowing that we will continue to provide pastors and shepherds so that you have a peaceful and spiritually nourishing home in which to worship on each Sabbath and Holy Day. You have multiple sites to choose from to attend and participate in the annual Feast of Tabernacles. Your children have summer and winter camps available, where they can learn the truths of God and how to apply them as they grow and mature. You have the Ambassador Bible Center, where members can attend to obtain in-depth knowledge of biblical truth. You have a vast array of literature—available in print or online in increasingly interactive formats—together with a growing Beyond Today program that is reaching thousands of new people on television and through the Internet.
And that, we believe with all of our being, is only the beginning. Moving forward, we believe that we are being prepared by Jesus Christ for growth. How and when that appears is up to God and the living Leader of this Church, Jesus Christ. We must ready ourselves in renewed prayer, deep meditation and earnest fasting.
As we prepare to advance, what are we to do as members—those called-out ones who make up the United Church of God? Read here the answer from the prophet Jeremiah: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it’” (Jeremiah 6:16, NIV).
Let us all rededicate ourselves to unity, to love for one another, to seeking and achieving God’s perfect will!
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, on behalf of the Council of Elders Dennis Luker—President
December 20, 2010
Free Bible Study Guides Site Attracts 94,000 Visitors in First Year
We were happy to greet more than 94,000 unique visitors in the first year of the Free Bible Study Guides Web site. Many people returned, with more than 43,000 repeat sessions for a total of 138,000 visits as of Dec. 17. Compared to the first six months, the average daily sessions increased 42 percent to 464 a day. The average session is 5 minutes and 22 seconds.
We have posted 53 lessons and 175 of the short studies we call “3 Bible Tips.” We hope to post another 16 lessons soon, and dozens more are planned.
So far 43 lessons and four of the “3 Bible Tips” have been viewed over 1,000 times. The most viewed lesson is the first one in the “Armor of God” series with 13,716 views.
More than 31,000 searches led people to the Free Bible Study Guides site. The top search term was “breastplate of righteousness” with 1,210 searches.
Currently 580 people have subscribed to our Free Bible Study Guides e-mail update. So far, we have received more than 400 questions and comments from readers, and we have responded to almost all of them.
Mike Bennett—Editorial content manager
December 19, 2010
Thank You for the “Thank You”
The Council of Elders wishes to thank the many brethren and congregations who signed a giant “Thank You” card that was presented to the Council on December 6.
Since it became known that more than 700 names of supporters appeared on the card, many more brethren wrote in and asked for their names to be included also. So far, close to 2,000 names have been submitted, with some representing the membership of entire congregations.
In addition, the Australian ministry sent in their names, along with a resolution from the Australian National Council dated Nov. 21, expressing its thanks to the Council and president of UCGIA, including unanimous support from the Australian ministry:
To the Council of Elders and the President of UCGIA.
Although the United Church of God—Australia is geographically removed and largely independent financially, its National Council views the escalating controversy and conflict in the Church in the United States with increasing concern. As a voluntary associate of the United Church of God, an International Association, we are concerned about any flow‐on effect to international areas such as Australia.
The Australian National Council, both formally through the Rules of Association and in spirit, supports the governing documents and governance structure of UCGIA. Together they provide the means by which the Church can fulfill the exhortation of 1 Corinthians 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
The National Council believes that those whose actions are destructive and damaging to the United Church of God, and are distracting it from its God‐given mission, should cease their divisive work and allow the present difficulties to be resolved with prayer to God and through the Church’s established structure, policies and procedures.
We offer you our prayerful support and encouragement and trust that God will give you the wisdom and strength to do His will in His Church during these troubling times.
The Australian ministry unanimously supports this statement and it may be shared at your discretion.
On August 9, the National Council of the United Church of God—Canada wrote a letter to the Council of Elders stating in part the following:
As the National Council of the United Church of God—Canada, we earnestly hope and pray that your next round of meetings will be especially successful at this crucial time in the history of UCGIA.
We want to assure you that we support all of the governing documents, including the Rules of Association. There have been times of crisis for us here in Canada, but by abiding by the Holy Scriptures and these documents, we have found that success is forth coming…
You are the duly elected members of the governing board of our parent organization, UCGIA, as selected by the General Conference of Elders. We in Canada recognize and respect your authority and the power that you have to act upon that authority, as clearly outlined in our governing documents…
Do carry on and may the Eternal Loving Compassionate Heavenly Father and His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Church, guide you and provide you with His wisdom in your upcoming urgent deliberations.
With the many challenges that the Council and administration face in their day-to-day work, we want to say “thank you” to you brethren as well for your support and faithfulness to God’s Work and His Church.
Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, Council of Elders
December 17, 2010
January-February Good News: Do You Understand the Signs of the Times?
The January-February issue of The Good News is now completed and off to the printer, to be printed and mailed in the next two weeks.
The key question on the cover and in the lead article is one we should all be asking ourselves: “Do You Understand the Signs of the Times?”
Everywhere we look it seems we see dangerous and growing problems. Economic issues dominate the headlines, with millions of people out of work and government debt skyrocketing. The ugly conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue. Terrorist threats unnerve us. Rogue states pursue their single-minded determination to get nuclear weapons by any means possible.
Where is it leading? Does Bible prophecy provide any answers?
The lead article and several other articles in this issue—“Jesus’ Warning to Watch—Just What Did He Mean?” “Debt Troubles Mount for Britain and America,” “An Overview of End-Time Prophecy,” “Is a Global Food Crisis Brewing?” and “Europe Braces for Terrorism”—address those crucial questions.
Our regular “World News and Trends” feature does our annual look at the state of the world looking ahead to the year 2011. Last but not least, our youth article for teen and young adult readers covers another key issue: “Is the Bible Still Relevant?”
We deeply appreciate the faithfulness and generosity of our members who make it possible to share these sobering but ultimately encouraging truths from God’s Word, and we hope you’ll take these articles to heart. You cannot afford to let yourself be distracted from what is taking place in the world around us in these dangerous times.
We also hope you’ll join us in praying that this seed that we’re privileged to have a part in sowing will fall on fertile ground so that others may have the opportunity to learn and share in these wonderful truths!
Scott Ashley—managing editor, The Good News
[The following was sent by president Dennis Luker to the United Church of God ministry December 16.]
Dear Fellow Elders,
Please read the following important memo from Media and Communications Services.
December 16, 2010
Re: Illegal Use of United Church of God, an International Association Name and Logo
You may be aware that a few anonymously prepared letters that are critical of the Council of Elders and/or other Church leaders have been posted online that appear under the letterhead of our trademarked United Church of God, an International Association (“UCGIA”) name and logo or seal. The use of our name and logo as contained in the letterhead from these anonymous writers falsely suggests that UCG leadership has endorsed such communications or that they in some fashion represent legitimate communication on behalf of the United Church of God.
By wrongly using these corporate symbols, the documents appear to be clearly intended to anonymously communicate, in what appears to be an official capacity, with the ministry and congregations of UCGIA. This wrong use of corporate logos and seals has caused some confusion as to the origin of these letters. As noted below, the Church has taken action to halt this inappropriate usage.
We would like to point out that the use of such anonymous tactics is not new to the Church of God. The apostle Paul warned ministers and members in ancient Greece about forgeries of church documents even in the first century: “Now we do implore you…to keep your heads and not be thrown off balance by any prediction or message or letter purporting to come from us” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 Phi).
It remains a sad mystery as to how anonymous writings can hope to possess any degree of credibility, particularly when these writings also illegally use the Church’s letterhead (name and logo or seal) as a prop for legitimacy.
With regard to this wrongful use of the Church’s name and logo, the Church’s copyright attorney is sending letters to those who are helping to distribute these anonymous letters using the UCGIA Marks. The letter advises the parties concerned that doing so constitutes unlawful acts of trademark infringement, dilution and passing off, and the like, which are in clear violation of UCGIA’s incontestable federal registrations for the trademark, service mark and trade name UNITED CHURCH OF GOD and its associated (globe) logo.
The letter includes an appropriate legal demand that these parties cease and desist from allowing or promoting such usage. In the interim, please be aware if you or any one in your congregation should happen to come across such documents, they do not represent legitimate communication from UCGIA.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
[The following letter was sent to the United Church of God, an International Association, ministry on December 13.]
Open Letter to the Elders of the United Church of God
December 13, 2010
Dear Fellow Elders of Jesus Christ,
An “open letter” addressed to me was submitted on Saturday night, Dec. 4, carrying the names of a number of ministers. It restated various allegations, many with roots in past issues considered resolved by the Council of Elders, but which appear unresolved by some signers. Since the letter was addressed to me personally, I wish to make a few comments.
Let me give the only answer available to any elder—from Scripture inspired by Jesus Christ and written by the apostle Peter:
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:1-5).
Let’s face facts: the ongoing struggle within the United Church of God over the past months and years has been about power and control. It’s been about not having the humility and faith to accept our duly elected and appointed governing authorities. We will never have perfect governing documents that will erase all disputes and turmoil from this or any organization. But we can achieve peace and unity, if we are willing follow the teaching and example of Jesus Christ.
I have received verified factual information showing activity of a number of men that was unbecoming of any minister of UCGIA. Consequently, Ministerial and Member Services notified each man of his error providing him time to reconsider his actions. Good-faith exchanges occurred where accepted. Some came in to talk. Others chose little or no response. A few decided to resign. Others proved by words and actions against, or in competition with the Church, that they do not wish to be part of UCGIA. Would you continue to credential ministers who have chosen not to work with us, but against us? I think not.
I would that we were all at peace together, working hard to serve Christ and preach His gospel of the Kingdom. But since the signers of the “open letter” asked, here is what I would have you to do:
- Would Jesus Christ have said the things that have been said—even perhaps by some of you? Bring back your loyalty to the governing structure that Christ has built in United since 1995. Give positive, supportive, healing sermons and faithfully “shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers” (1 Peter 5:2).
- Are you taking the authority of Jesus Christ to yourselves? Step back from stoking the fires of our Church’s crisis and truly believe that Jesus Christ is “head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22). Think about what that means.
- Is a minister’s job to be a politician or a spiritual healer? As elders in the faith you are to “be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
- As president of the United Church of God and an elder with you in the faith, I would have you “to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:1-2).
From the heart before God and man, how will you personally respond to these questions and requests? Can you support your spiritual mother, the Church of God, as Christ Himself has organized us within United?
With all my heart I sincerely hope and pray that you will rethink and re-pray your position and truly unite with us. But if not, then we are at an impasse.
Fellow elders of the “open letter,” you know where I stand from my president’s message given to the Council of Elders last week. Where do you stand?
Your fellow elder,