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Dec. 7 Letter from the Council and President

[The following letter was sent to the United Church of God ministry and membership by the Council of Elders and the President on December 7, 2010.]

Dec. 7, 2010

Dear Ministers and Members,

This letter to you is from the entire sitting Council of Elders and has also been signed by Dennis Luker as president of the United Church of God, representing the administration and ministerial team. We invite you to carefully read every word and pray earnestly about what we are writing to you today.

As we collectively write to you, we write in the prayerful, humble and confident knowledge that the Bible—the inspired Word of God—means what it says when we are told that Jesus Christ Himself is the living Head of the Church. That means that we must all—ministers and members alike—look to Jesus Christ for the power, the love and the direction that He will give His Church to know and fulfill God’s will. Sometimes we may be presented with things and events that we don’t totally understand at the moment, but nonetheless, we can and will be confident that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, emphasis added throughout). We must not allow the familiarity of this verse to dilute its meaning!

This morning, during the regularly scheduled meetings of the Council of Elders, Melvin Rhodes was presented with the resignations of three members of the Council: David Baker, Michael Blackwell and David Treybig. The Council resignations today followed on the resignation from the Council submitted last Friday by Jim Franks. All resignations were received in a civil and respectful manner. No resignations from the Council from these four men were solicited by other Council members and they were not anticipated.

In following the process established by the Church’s Constitution, Roy Holladay and Victor Kubik were installed as members of the Council of Elders. These two men, both of whom have previously served on the Council, were in line for service per the balloting of the General Conference of Elders last May. The current Council of 10 represents sufficient membership to continue the work and mission of the Church under our Bylaws, and that work will continue forward!

The process for the remaining two Council positions will be fulfilled according to our Bylaws, and you will receive due notice of that progress.

As the work and mission of the United Church of God continues forward, we as the current Council of Elders, together with Mr. Luker, want to emphasize the intensely earnest need for all of us to be in alignment with God’s will (Romans 12:1-2). We must surrender ourselves to that divine will in order for this Church—this group of called-out ones—to be healed of our differences, achieve reconciliation and forge together in unity. That is the goal, that is the objective, that is the focus of all of us. None of the Council members desires division or discord. Our belief and our focus is not whether any one person is “right” concerning any given issue, but what is the truth, how should we act on the truth and how can we—as the duly designated governing body over the United Church of God—humbly yield to and accomplish the very will of God!

Many unfortunate comments have been made about numerous issues both recently and over the past several months. For the record, as the current Council of Elders, we would like to briefly address three issues and make them clear.

One, the members in Latin America have not been cut off. No one on the Council has abandoned anyone. In fact, a fair portion of the Council meetings this week was devoted to understanding the current issues in Latin America, the facts, and how the Church can make progress and achieve unity. We acknowledge that some tough decisions have been made. These decisions have been made in accordance to the facts that we know and in conformity with both the bylaws of the Church and biblical teachings. The door is and will remain open to reconciliation both in Latin America and elsewhere. Reconciliation in God’s time remains our prayerful goal.

Two, no doctrines of the Church are being changed, subtly or overtly. No changes are being contemplated. Conversely, particularly given the unnecessary turmoil that has arisen in some quarters of the Church about the Sabbath, the Council is intensely focused on making clear what is expected in terms of Sabbath-keeping and the seventh day worship of God. We uphold the established doctrinal teaching of the United Church of God on the subject of the Sabbath and the Holy Days.

Three, we on the Council and in the administration believe that credentialed ministers serving within the United Church of God must fulfill their ministerial duties. That means that ministers are to be servants, providing for the spiritual needs of the precious members in their congregations. Ministers are to edify and build up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), not sow discord and uncertainty among God’s spiritual flock. Numerous avenues and opportunities are already available to ministers who would like to raise issues with us as Council members or those within the Church’s administration. It has been written before, but let us again make it plain here: we on the Council believe the biblical precept that “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17), but when things get so hot that the iron melts, no one is served. We on the Council—as we expect of ourselves—expect ministers to fulfill the biblical mandate to “be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). According to the biblical requirements, we expect that ministers will “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).

Those standards apply to all of us. The Bible tells us that we all fall short, that we are all imperfect. Yet we are instructed: “Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6, NIV). That means we must learn how to live in love, just as Jesus taught. That means we all have much to overcome.

While we may be buffeted by trials of various type and circumstance in this current time, we know that Jesus said “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). As Jesus declared to His disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Even in the midst of this trial, we can be confident that God is directly using these experiences—however unpleasant, exhausting and taxing—to mold and shape our character. That divinely refined character will last for all eternity. We must not fail at this task: “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

Despite the current trials, we know from the Bible that the work of God, the work of the Church, indeed, the Church itself will continue. As we know from Scripture and from history, we know that if we are yielded to God, seeking His will and how to learn how to love one another, He will use us to accomplish His will. We all need correction, and we must seek it to achieve this.

With God as our witness, we whose names appear below bear no ill will to any man. The Church of God will be here today, it will be here tomorrow and Christ will continue to prepare the saints for the Kingdom of God. While we may be a comparatively small church, a little flock, God is magnifying our voice and has set before us an open door to preach His gospel.

In conclusion, we on the Council prayerfully join with what the apostle Paul wrote under inspiration to the first century church at Ephesus: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better” (Ephesians 1:17, NIV). Paul continues, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart [your innermost thoughts and understanding] may be enlightened in order that you may know…his incomparably great power for us who believe” (verse 18-19, NIV).

Thank you all for your prayerful support. Let us seek peace. Let us claim the promises of God and rejoice in the spiritual riches He makes available to all of us through our living Leader, Jesus Christ!

In Christ’s service,

The Council of Elders [Scott Ashley, Bob Berendt, Aaron Dean, William Eddington, Roy Holladay, Victor Kubik, Darris McNeely, Melvin Rhodes (chairman), Mario Seiglie and Robin Webber] and Dennis Luker (president).

December 7, 2010 - Posted by | Council of Elders, President's Office |

33 Comments »

  1. APPRECIATE THE CHOICES MADE FOR THE NEW
    COUNCL MEMBERS.

    A MEMBER

    Comment by Alvah Pyle | December 7, 2010 | Reply

  2. It is very sad this letter had to be written, but thank you so much for this important,sincere, and loving letter.

    Comment by Kathy Trone | December 7, 2010 | Reply

  3. It’s a shame this letter had to be written, but there are plenty of faithful members who appreciate the hard work and the good example set by your leadership according to the biblical standard. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by nathanalbright | December 7, 2010 | Reply

  4. Ahhhmen.
    The Church of GOD moves foreward and continues to be strengthened as our focus increases and is not diminished.
    Christ is ‘Boss’ and is consistantly aware of His ‘Beloved’ The Church that The Father has given to Him to love and cherish!
    We will continue to move forward on our knees in prayer that the Church Of God will move forward towards the Freedom of All Mankind of whom are waiting for us to follow HIS will towards ultimate and complete reconciliation.

    Comment by David Alan Jutson | December 7, 2010 | Reply

  5. Thank you all for the letter and for your service. Satan is angry with United so we know we’re on the right track. You don’t get flak unless you’re over the target!

    Comment by Doug Collison | December 7, 2010 | Reply

  6. Dear Elders in the Faith,

    A short note: It is with sadness to hear of the resignations, yet I am hopeful now more than ever that you who remain are of ONE mind to focus on the needs of the Church of God. My prayers are with you.

    Sincerly,
    Ray Roberts

    Comment by Ray Roberts | December 7, 2010 | Reply

  7. Go forward. Ex14:15

    Comment by Ron Barker | December 7, 2010 | Reply

  8. This may not seem good but it is now out in the open and plain for all to see.

    God has allowed this, therefore it is something God does expect us to use to help learn how to discern good and evil.

    The truly sad part of this mess is that so many basic, basic, basic lessons have been forgotten and or never learned. If we had really learned them, then the current situation would now be far different.

    Stay the course and stay focused on seeking, listening and hearing God.

    Comment by Gary | December 7, 2010 | Reply

  9. We are behind you! Press on with confidence.

    Comment by markparrish | December 7, 2010 | Reply

  10. Thank you for your faithfulness and service to God and his Church. It is disappointing to hear of the resignations and the need to send out this letter. Our prayers are with you daily. May God provide you comfort, strength and guidance in leading his Church.

    Comment by Bill Dimovski | December 7, 2010 | Reply

  11. Through all the uncertainty and turmoil,I am convinced that God is spiritually taking His people somewhere we wouldn’t otherwise go. Let’s continue to preach the Gospel and prepare ourselves for Christ’s return. Thank you for standing firm.

    Comment by Benny Butler | December 7, 2010 | Reply

  12. Thank you, I hope we can move on…I’m excited about things. I always appreciate Mrs Pyle’s comments, remembering her from the Feast video a couple of years ago.

    Comment by paul spenser | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  13. We are praying for God’s will be done and for the Council’s meetings that God give you wisdom. We remain loyal to the church.

    Comment by maryPost | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  14. Let us respect our council members and be
    faithful to our doctrines. menon sankara

    Comment by menon sankara | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  15. how sad to see fine men being forced out of serving.I personally know one of the resighed council members,so I got to hear both sides,in this world the majority rules for a while,the truth will always come forth,we will see how united will be blessed. that will tell the true story.I hope this comment will stay on for a while,but probably not.the media is controlled,is that fair that comments from the opposite view is taken off,is that like like a world govt.

    Comment by ron yost | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  16. Thank you all for giving so much to God’s Work and to us -the members of United Church of God an International Assoc. My husband and I pray for all of you and know there is a lot of stress going on . Please know- WE LOVE EACH ONE OF YOU AND THANK YOU. WE ARE PRAYING FOR GOD TO GUIDE YOU AND GIVE YOU THE WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE , TO DO HIS WELL. WE ALSO KNOW THERE IS A LOT OF STRESS ON YOUR FAMILIES. WE PRAY FOR THEM ALSO. I ALWAYS SIGN MY COMMENTS ON FACE BOOK. hugs sandy

    Comment by Sandy Abrell | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  17. This time of year is a favorite of Satan to attack us. Thank you for your service and love and the desire to reconcile. My continued prayers are being answered and I know God is guiding your decisions. Thank you Council of Elders – Charlie

    Comment by Charlie | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  18. Just wanted you to know we are praying for you all. Its interesting to see such unity already – just in the comments above and it is wonderful to hear the words “This letter to you is from the entire sitting Council of Elders”. That’s encouraging beyond words. I notice a lot of comments convey a sense of relief – I was surprised to feel the same when I heard of the resignations. Not happiness at all – just relief. There is now a great sense of expectation and hope for what can be accomplished with unity in the council. We’ll continue praying for God’s mercy and direction for all affected by the current issues and for true reconciliation in God’s time. Keep it up!

    Comment by Member in TX | December 8, 2010 | Reply

    • You are correct: now the fruits will be without excuse.

      Comment by Other Member in TX | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  19. I am very sorry to hear of these resignations and admit all these troubles are very disturbing to me.However,as you say,this is God’s Church and Jesus Christ is our Head and He is faithful to see us through ANY trial.I pray for each one of you every day including those who have felt the need to resign.
    You men are in the front lines of this battle. How much of this trouble can be a wake-up call to each of us in the congregation that the time is short and we need more diligence in working to bring our own lives in harmony with the will of God in perfect accord with our Head,Jesus Christ.
    We have a part in this battle too.If the body is not fit and focused how can we support our captains? We look to you and pray for you as our leaders as we should but we also need to look to ourselves to be sure we are soldiers fit for battle perfecting our spiritual muscles.
    Thank you for your leadership.Thank you for keeping us informed.
    And now,FORWARD BELOVED BRETHREN! As Mr. Armstrong did, I too, have read the last chapter of the Bible and WE WIN!!

    Comment by Rachel Johnston | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  20. We appreciate the direction Christ has given the Church. Iron does sharpen iron. This is not “Sabre Rattling” which causes a broken spirit, “Ax Grinding” which wears away or the “Casting a Big Bertha blowing us all away.The sharpening of our Iron should be done with the refining of Gold for eternity.
    Jim on the Hill

    Comment by Jim Lapp | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  21. It is time to put away all this nonsense and set our hearts and eyes on what really matters-God’s work and will for us.
    This crisis has taught us to be more diligent in working out our salvation with fear and trembling, lest we fall. We have seen ministers that we have looked up to sponsoring rumors, publicly airing their grievances and upholding others that have been defiant of church authority. Where is the submission, the humility, the meekness they have been teaching us? Are we being so affected by the world around us, that hates authority? As a wife I have to learn to subject myself to my husband, even when he might do something I consider unfair. That’s where my faith in God has to come in.
    We love our Latin American ministers and brethren but unfortunately they made the choice of following a man who refused to surrender his position. Even if he might have been treated unfairly, the godly thing to have done is to humbly step down and allow God to work things out. The latin brethren would still be with us. Instead he held on to a position and these are the consequences.’
    But God allows things for a purpose. Thank you all for pressing on and let’s ask God for more wisdom, humility and meekness -as He hates a proud heart- lest we too fall.

    Comment by gnieves | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  22. I am very sad concerning these recent developments with the resignations. I keep wondering if some are still not treating each other in a godly manner. John 13:35 says: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” I’m still not sure if I am seeing this on any “side” completely. I long for reconciliation. Ephesians 4:2 says “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” I think God wants us to forgive and love and bear with each other. I hope that those who remain and those who have resigned can do this. I pray for you all to have humility and wisdom and above all Love.

    Comment by Member in TN | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  23. Mr. Luker and Mr. Rhodes,
    I have been truly inspired by your recent letters. Because I believe that the two of you, with the councils assistance, are being honest, truthful, and forthright, I am confident that you are properly directing the United Church of God and its members. Your task is the most “unpleasant, exhausting and taxing” of any of us and I commend you all for your effort. Thank you and may our Great God continue to bless you and your work.

    Comment by Andrew Fowler | December 8, 2010 | Reply

  24. These scriptures immediately came to thought, and in this order:

    Matt 7:21-23
    21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

    and

    Matt 7:16-20
    16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

    From all the complaining that some are doing, you would think that the council, president, and administration, were doing something blatantly (doctrinally) wrong. But, I have noticed a pattern to all the complaining. Maybe it’s my training, background, or education, but I deal with facts, not rumors, hearsay, or anything else that can not be substantiated. For these past few months, there have been ministers that have complained, rejected church authority, and even resigned. I have noticed that many make references to improprieties, but none have given any account based upon fact, that stands up to any scrutiny. In fact, most have raised arguments that have no basis at all. It seems these complaints are doing nothing more than questioning those in authority, for no reason other than to imply wrongdoing. Where have we seen this tactic before? The evil one, satan the devil, has done this since the beginning of creation!

    Now we are seeing, once well respected men, succumbing to the temptation to “practice lawlessness”. It’s almost as if a contagious disease has spread quickly among the ministry, causing many to act in a bizarre manner.
    The consequences of this are devastating, because it is literally leaving spiritual children without guidance. Make no mistake here, and don’t underestimate how this will affect the membership as a whole.

    We have got to remember, and understand, that we do not follow any man, men, or specific minister! We obey God. And God does place his called ministers over us, to instruct and care for us. God has also placed His Holy Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as the head of the church, directly over those in the ministry. As long as those called ministers, in the structure blessed by God, are preaching God’s truth, we must continue to submit, and do God’s work.

    Remember Matthew 7:16 You will know them by their fruits.
    The fruits of those that are questioning authority, are not proper. They are sowing discord, division, and open rebellion (without reason).
    On the other hand, the fruits of the COE and the administration, seem to be protecting God’s doctrine, caring for the body (membership), preaching God’s word into the world, and even showing love and concern to those that are in rebellion.

    In civil court terms, this is called a “preponderance of evidence”, when one side is shown to be correct, if the facts clearly favor one side more than the other.

    While I know that only God can read men’s hearts, it does seem quite apparent to me, that we must continue to be faithful and serve God, through the ministry he has blessed us with. Anything less, would be saying “no” to Jesus Christ, as the living head of the church, and to God, our Father.
    I encourage you all, to always say “yes” to God.

    -May God’s Holy Spirit Strengthen Us All,

    Thomas J. Wilson

    Comment by Thomas J. Wilson | December 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Thomas, we are accountable for our words as you well know. Are you saying that those that disagree with the current leadership are being led by satan? Just seems you are doing the same thing you are accusing them of doing. Or do you know all the facts and both sides of the issues?

      Comment by Nathan Wetmore | December 9, 2010 | Reply

      • Hi Nathan,
        I think you misunderstood what I said, or certainly what I meant. I make no accusation against anyone. My point, is simply that while I, (i.e. anyone) can not read men’s hearts, we are told to “see their fruits”. My prayers are for all of God’s called, and especially for those who are struggling. I think satan is making a direct attack on the church, by causing confusion about what is physical, and what is spiritual. The specifics and details are not nearly as important as everyone having the correct attitude. We all, (ministry included) need to humbly, go to God, and get our relationship with Him correct first. Strife, arguing, and malice toward one another, is NOT the spirit of God.

        Comment by Thomas J. Wilson | December 10, 2010 | Reply

  25. More grief for God and His people. When will it ever end? When our Lord returns and sets all of us straight.

    Comment by charity decker | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  26. I thank you all for your continued work in faith toward the unification of God’s church in the face of Satan’s continual attacks. I pray that God gives you all the strength to carry forward.

    Comment by Mark L. Johnston | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  27. With authority comes discretion. Let us not use authority as a bat to beat others into submission or to puff ourselves up.

    Where there exists an atmosphere of mistrust every effort must be made by the Council to act transparently and be open to review and assessment of their actions to the same degree as those who are defiant. Right will always be right and wrong wrong.

    Let the work of God continue even if by stones!

    Comment by Anona Ningun | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  28. To the Council, The President, and all in the ministry:
    Keep the faith. Be encouraged. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was tempted in all things, and HAS overcome! God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle.
    Thank You all, for your service to God.

    Comment by Thomas J. Wilson | December 10, 2010 | Reply

  29. After listening to President report I learned that we have a very humble, fearless, brave, meek and faithful President and as for me and my house we will be 100% behind the COE, the President and all Ministers who are serving Our God faithfully and will be praying for all of you.We all know that Satan is working very hard to destroy God’s Church but God will never leave us nor forsake us.

    Comment by Thomas Ko | December 11, 2010 | Reply

  30. Mr. Luker,

    In the past few days yet a new letter of demands and ultimatums has been delivered to the leadership of the church from disgruntled ministers and local elders. Upon review I see that some elders from my church area (Raleigh NC) and surrounding congregations have signed this document.

    Be assured, their signatures do not represent the sentiments or position of everyone in their congregations.

    As Thomas Ko (a fellow Raleigh member) said before me, I and my family stand behind the COE, the President and all ministers who are faithfully serving the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and will be praying for all of you.

    I believe that the governing bodies of the UCG AIA have adequately answered all their would be inquisitors with respect, truth and Christian love. My view of the facts of which I have been made aware is that every attempt has, and is being made to reconcile and pursue peace within the body of Christ.

    Please continue to fight the good the good fight Mr. Luker… He will never leave you nor forsake you.

    Your friend and brother in Jesus Christ, Craig Scott
    Raleigh NC

    Comment by Craig Scott | December 13, 2010 | Reply


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