Efforts to Seek Reconciliation
Repeated Efforts for the Council of Elders to Seek Reconciliation
December 9, 2010
Dear Fellow Brethren,
Some are saying that the Council of Elders has refused to discuss current issues and concerns, trying to create the impression that the Council is recalcitrant and unwilling to pursue reconciliation. The question is whether the Council has or has not been willing to meet to discuss the issues of the relocation to Texas, bloc voting, ethics, governing documents, alternate forums, etc.
The facts are that the Council of Elders has met repeatedly, no fewer than six times over the last three years, to discuss these issues with involved parties. These meetings were not publicized, but held in private to allow participants to speak freely to allow for open and frank discussion and to hopefully reach agreement and reconciliation. Here is a list of these meetings:
- In November 2008 nine Council members, including the president at the time, met for a special two-day meeting to discuss in great detail problems in our relationships with one another.
- After the May 2009 General Conference of Elders and regular Council meetings, another special three-day meeting was held for the Council of Elders near Indianapolis specifically to address these issues. All major issues were discussed and explanations were accepted as satisfactory. Those present left the meetings feeling the Church could move forward together in a spirit of cooperation. But again, the issues were thoroughly discussed.
- At the August 2009 Council of Elders meetings, the Council spent many hours in executive session to again discuss in great detail conflict between the Council of Elders and members of the administration. Again we thought we had reached agreement on ways to better work together for the overall good of the Church.
- Due to growing disagreements between the Council of Elders and the administration, in October 2009 a special face-to-face meeting of all Council members and the president was convened at substantial additional expense to again address specific issues and accusations and to seek reconciliation. We agreed that division was not our desire and again we left the meetings hopeful. Subsequent events and actions prevented any agreement from holding.
- At the December 2009 Council of Elders meetings, the Council of Elders once again spent many hours in executive session to discuss the growing differences between the Council of Elders and the administration.
- At the February 2010 Council of Elders meetings, the Council once again spent many hours in executive session to discuss the deteriorating relationship between the Council of Elders and the administration. (Finally, in April 2010, the Council of Elders concluded that it was in the best interests of the Church to move forward with new leadership in the administration and reassigned the president and various members of his administration to the field ministry.)
While the issues have not been resolved, the fact is that hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars have been spent in trying to address issues and to reconcile. These are still going on.
In nearly every case, the issues raised by people have been addressed in official statements or papers issued by the Council, the chairman of the Council, and/or the president. Sadly, some appear to be unwilling to accept these statements and instead demand different answers or that the Council reopen and readdress issues that have already been balloted on and settled. In some cases elders or members have raised questions or made accusations against Council members and the Council has gone to considerable expense to meet in person with those individuals to answer their questions. In other cases the Council has offered to meet with individuals or groups, only to be met with demands that the Council considered unworkable, effectively preventing any meeting.
Statements that issues have not been addressed or that the Council is unwilling to meet or address issues are simply not true. When shown to be wrong, the Council has apologized for missteps in a serious attempt to reconcile so we can get on with our mission of preaching the gospel and preparing a people. Regrettably, what is true is that there has been only temporary acceptance, if even that, of the answers given, typically followed by more letters and continued accusations against some on the Council and no apologies or admission of mistakes made by those claiming they seek reconciliation.
The Council of Elders and administration feel that continued discussion of these issues in forums where most would not have adequate background and knowledge would be counterproductive—especially in light of actions by some former elders who are now seeking a following among members of UCGIA.
Reconciliation is our goal. We remain open to sincere attempts for reconciliation. But reconciliation does not mean unilaterally giving in to demands that we capitulate on the founding principles and documents that the ministry of the United Church of God has overwhelmingly agreed to abide by. True reconciliation can only come when two are agreed to walk together and fulfill all steps in such a process. We are and remain dedicated to fulfilling a ministry of reconciliation among all who are sincere and willing.
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