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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.

Sincerely,

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 9, 2010 - Posted by | Council of Elders, President's Office |

36 Comments »

  1. There needs to be an end to this. I’ve never heard one word of controversy from my local minister (probably because my minister is Mr. Kubik. . .). I have no idea how this whole brouhaha got started, but it needs to stop.

    The only church with all members in agreement on all points is a church of one member. We’re never all going to agree on all points of doctrine or government or what-have-you. What we all should agree on, though, is that we are where God wants us to be and that God is leading the United Church of God.

    Those who want to cause trouble, who want to stir up dissention, and make life difficult for the Council of Elders and the president need to knock it off. This is the leadership we have and I think they’re doing a bang-up job of leading God’s church, despite all the ridiculous efforts to derail them.

    Decide: are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Ask before you speak or write: are my words true, kind, and necessary? I heard those three words mentioned many years in a sermon ago on gossiping. They’ve kept me out of trouble and became a guiding force in my 4th grade classroom last year.

    If nine- and ten-year-old children in a poverty level public school can learn to think before they speak, what in the world is wrong with these adults who are supposed to be following Christ’s example?

    Comment by Susan Durnil | December 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Amen!

      Comment by Deborah | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  2. Susan, have you gone to your brothers and sisters and discussed your grievances before posting this? Thanks, I’m sure you’ll reconsider what you wrote.

    Comment by Nathan Wetmore | December 9, 2010 | Reply

    • No, because no one I know personally has any problems or is causing any problems. All the issues that have come up in the United Church of God over the past year or so have had no impact on me or mine at all, except to cause stress for my minister.

      Comment by Susan Durnil | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  3. Reconciliation begins with an admitance of doing wrong

    Comment by roxanna yost | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  4. After seeing both sides that I’ve been able to see, it appears that there is a “Lot’s wife” syndrome going on here.
    People who are desperately trying to hang onto something that God has closed. Trying to reopen a door that has been shut. Ambassador College was a wonderful thing. Fortunately, I had the privilege of attending that wonderful College. But God closed that door along with our former affiliation. Any man who tries to reopen that door will soon be sorely disappointed.
    How weak do we think God is that He cannot raise up ministers any other way then have to go to millions of dollars in debt to build a “old glory days” college to do this?
    God wants us to have a heart of flesh, and not of stone.
    In a million millennium will it matter if we were able to move to Denton, TX or not? Or if we stayed in Ohio or not?

    Comment by Randall R. Foshee | December 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Very well said. This “beating on a dead horse” needs to stop so we can focus on preaching the gospel and preparing a people.

      Comment by Nat A. | December 10, 2010 | Reply

    • I Agree =)

      Comment by Jhon Alvarado | December 11, 2010 | Reply

  5. Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! For your courage to do what is right no matter what.

    Comment by Janet Treadway | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  6. I’ve thought about it, Susan, and have decided that I must tell you, truthfully, that if Mr. Kubik has not said “one word” to his congregation about the “controversy” that has been going on in God’s church, it is my considered opinion that he is not doing his job. You should know, from his mouth, everything that all the churches know. I am not saying that I know every thing that has happened (I am sickened by most of it, so I don’t read EVERYTHING,) but information from reliable sources is available to all of us, and those who choose to ignore it, deny it, or whitewash it cannot have the churches best interests at heart. I am not a school teacher, but I am very well read on many subjects and I do wish every body who has any thing to say would speak the plain unvarnished truth. Not many people have ever had reason to accuse me of being unkind, Susan, so I hope you won’t either, but I felt it was absolutely necessary to point out to you how closeminded I think you are. We love because we are instructed by our Savior to “Love one another,” but we are not required to like what’s going on. We are watching and waiting. And, praying.

    Comment by bea childs | December 9, 2010 | Reply

    • I wouldn’t say that Mr. Kubik hasn’t mentioned the issues going on, but he certainly hasn’t caused any of them.

      I have enough trouble keeping up with everything that comes from United, much less trying to find out what people outside United are saying. I don’t have the time or inclination to hunt down every rumor and innuendo flowing through the internet. My time is much better spent perusing the word of God.

      Comment by Susan Durnil | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  7. This is a much better letter than previous letter sent out to members. I pray that this tone will continue.
    The Council must also recognize that settled issues don’t bar reopening of discussions on those same issues. Often there is room for further clarification and even new perspectives.
    The same frank and open discussion had with ABC students should be afforded to members of the GCE as soon as possible to stop further widespread discontent!

    Comment by Anona Ningun | December 9, 2010 | Reply

  8. This letter seems to say “we can meet” and “we can agree as long as everyone else agrees with us”. I hope that is not your intent.

    If you really want to reconcile, you need to listen to the other persons’ issues and address the underlying concerns.

    The statement above

    “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”

    seems to indicate an unwillingness to truly listen and address the issues. Again, I hope this is not your intent.

    You need to ask yourself “why are they concerned?”

    You need to ask yourself “am I listening?”, “am I willing to change when necessary?”, and “if the Issues and Concerns have been truly addressed, why are we still talking about them?”

    If you sincerely believe you are listening, PLEASE ask God to show you if you are right.

    We will continue to pray for unity in United. We all know that God can solve these issues if we humbly ask him to. Trust God to finish the work he began in us.

    Comment by Rod Williams | December 10, 2010 | Reply

    • Do you know for *a fact* (ie firsthand knowledge) that the council has not considered these questions? It not, please don’t presume guilt upon your brothers.

      Comment by Terri | December 11, 2010 | Reply

      • No guilt presumed. This letter is in response to another letter. It does not seem like the underlying issues have been addressed. If they have been truly addressed, they why are we still talking about it?

        Comment by Rod Williams | December 11, 2010 | Reply

  9. At baptism we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and to submit to His authority – including the authority of those within and without the Church that He has put over us. I have no problem understanding that. Thank you Mr. President Luker and Council of Elders. Charlie

    Comment by Charlie | December 10, 2010 | Reply

    • I agree with you Charlie. We did accept Christ as our Lord and Savior at baptism and made a commitment to obey His laws but the second part of your statement confuses me. Will you just blindly follow a man; no questions asked? I will only do that if they are in line with God and the Bible. That I have no problem with. In Christian love, Tracy

      Comment by Tracy | December 10, 2010 | Reply

  10. The one question that I have deals with the previous six meetings that were outlined in this post. It’s a great thing that the council is taking time to meet and discuss issues, but are they meeting with others in the ministry that have concerns? When I read the descriptions in the above six meetings, they only talk about the council and the President, but they don’t mention other groups of ministers and elders that have written requests for meetings.

    Comment by Mike | December 10, 2010 | Reply

  11. We cannot keep splitting – frankly it is weird and is the spirit of divorce. Has the council, administration and ministry considered marriage counseling from a neutral and savvy source ? Preaching the gospel is first getting your own house right and then secondly taking that example to the world. If we are looking for a direction to take the church – it is staring us in the face. We do not know how to love each other. We do not have good skill sets in conflict management, emotional intelligence and personality preference. I think we know that, so why aren’t we focusing our tithes and efforts on resources to really understand and teach human interaction skills. When we get that right, the spirit of where to take the work will be more obvious and cohesive.

    Regards,
    Cindy Cherry-Gill

    Comment by Cindy Cherry-Gill | December 10, 2010 | Reply

    • This is a valid point Cindy. Perhaps our disfunction is directly related to our lack of growth. Our local congregations has had several new members start and then leave when they “caught wind” of our inability to resolve issues with mutual respect and maturity. Sadly, I have been mortified by “my church” over these past few months.

      Comment by Judie Dullum | December 13, 2010 | Reply

  12. Regardless of the great witness we are doing, if we don’t have love(1 Cor. 13), what does God think of us? The turmoil affects the preparation of the bride of Christ. We need to assume the best of each other and use kinder, more loving words to address issues. We pray for everyone. Sincerely, Bill and Carolyn Raines

    Comment by carolyn raines | December 10, 2010 | Reply

  13. Susan,

    I agree 100% with your comments. Talebearing and gossip are major contributors to the problems.

    Comment by Doug Collison | December 10, 2010 | Reply

  14. Some people are just being ridiculous. The council puts out an explanation AGAIN detailing what they’ve done and now that’s not good enough.
    It seems that many would like the council to meet personally with each and every person who has a suspicion or who has heard and believed negative gossip. That’s kind of ridiculous.
    If they do that what’s next? Meet and explain to my non-churched neighbor? Meet and explain to my pets?
    Give it up already and repent!

    Comment by Doug Collison | December 10, 2010 | Reply

    • This letter was in response to a letter dated December 8th. Having read both, I know why they posted this further explanation. Let’s all keep praying for unity.

      Comment by Rod Williams | December 11, 2010 | Reply

  15. Dear Council of Elders and Conference of Elders and all,
    After careful consideration there is only one answer to this controversy.
    Many talk about the United Church of God Constitution and the ByLaws. FORGET THEM!!!
    God wants something different. It is so simple. Matt. 11:30

    Here is God’s admonition. Who, in the Old Testament was Jesus Christ speaking. Here is His instruction to each one of God’s people. It doesn’t matter if you are the President, Mr. Leon Walker, Melvin Rhodes, a lowly widow who is ailing at home, or anyone else. It is so simple.

    2Ch 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin…

    We must do this until our hearts CHANGE. Then and only then will we come together in one accord as ONE UNITED FAMILY. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY!!!
    Don’t just read this, meditate on it, consider it carefully, there is so much in that one statement that Christ was crying out to anyone He loves, for this is the ultimate thing for any true Christian to do day in and day out. This is the ONLY WAY TO RESOLVE THIS CRISIS. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY!!!!

    Comment by Randall R. Foshee | December 11, 2010 | Reply

  16. Folks,
    Think about it. Do you know what executive session means?

    “By Laws – 8.7.7 Executive Session
    The Council of Elders may from time to time meet in executive session when deemed appropriate by the Council. Any member of the Council may request that the chairman convene the Council for an executive session. Upon request, the chairman shall move to adjourn any meeting in progress, excuse any non-Council members whose presence at the executive session is not required and move to convene the executive session. Executive sessions of the Council are subject to the same attendance and quorum requirements as regular meetings. It is the intention of the Council in providing for executive sessions that they be used to address any matters that are sensitive or confidential in nature.”

    Out of the 6 meetings 3 of them where held in “executive session”. How can you reconcile if all parties are not present?

    Comment by Rich Swanson | December 11, 2010 | Reply

    • Hi Rich,

      Bylaw 8.7.7 allows the Council of Elders to invite non-Council members to executive sessions. It is only those who are asked to leave who have to leave the room. Any guests invited to stay are bound by the executive rules. In the effort to reconcile, other parties can be (and have been) present and involved in the discussions with the Council.

      Comment by United Church of God | December 11, 2010 | Reply

      • But reconciling with everyone (126+ at this point) needs to take place, not just the few who are asked to stay for the executive session. Why isn’t that being done?

        Comment by Rich Swanson | December 13, 2010 | Reply

  17. It is surprising why a group of ministers keeps undermining the council’s authority. They keep repeating that UCG cut off the Latin American brethren when we all know that They decided to follow a man that defied the church’s established authority. Why don’t these ministers ever say that the LA ministers literally shut the door in Mario Seiglies face when he went down to speak to them as a representative of Mr Luker while they were still receiving a salary from UCG. No one on the Council has ever done such a thing.
    Ministers, please stop this bickering and stop justifying actions that are wrong.
    When the Council makes a decision, we should all submit -unless it regards something against God’s law- in humility and meekness. Then we will have true peace and can focus on God’s work.
    YOu have to look at the

    Comment by gnieves | December 11, 2010 | Reply

  18. The only thing we must remember…
    GOD put these men into office (Council of Elder) just like He put Saul into office before David. Look at the example David set when chased by Saul when Saul had blood in his eyes for David. Even when David could have easily killed Saul and been done with it, he held his ground, because he knew that it was God who put him in office and it was God who would deal with Saul.
    The Council is NOT like Saul in the respect of their actions. But they ARE like Saul in that GOD put them into office!
    If you don’t like what the Council does, then you don’t like what God is doing and you are truly judging God. I would tremble to do this!
    II Chronicles 7:14

    Comment by Randall R. Foshee | December 11, 2010 | Reply

    • Hi Randall,
      I think you forget that men can sin or make mistakes but God doesn’t. We follow leaders as they follow Christ (I Cor.11:1)

      Comment by Robert Biskup | December 12, 2010 | Reply

  19. Satan has done a good job in getting in the field and decieving the brethren.If something does not take place soon, more sheep will be scattered and lost.

    Comment by TD | December 13, 2010 | Reply

  20. I am embarrassed that another Church of God seems to be forming. I am devastated that trusted ministers are willing to try to bring this work to its knees. God can raise up stones if we can’t keep our act together, and I for one find that terrifying. He doesn’t need any of us, but we are lost without Him.

    Comment by Kathy Sanny | December 13, 2010 | Reply

  21. Instead of letter after letter and small meeting after meeting. Why doesn’t everyone involved, as far as the council of elders and ministers involved in these issues, lock themselves in a room and not come out until something is resolved. The longer this goes on the more people become uneasy.

    Comment by Joe | December 13, 2010 | Reply

  22. What exactly does it mean when ministerial credentials are revoked; and what is the process? Is the person disfellowshipped, fired?

    Comment by mark bradley | December 14, 2010 | Reply

    • I recently asked the same question of our local pastor, and he explained that to revoke someone’s credentials just means that the organization doesn’t recognize the person’s ordination as being valid.

      For example, if Mr. X were ordained an elder in WorldWide, he had to be “credentialed” by UCG in order to be recognized as an elder in UCG. He can later be “decredentialed” if the leaders of the organization decide to do that, and they are basically saying that Mr. X’s ordination is NOT valid. However, Mr. X can then go over to the Living Church of God and tell them that he agrees with their doctrines and beliefs and wants to be a minister with them, and they can credential him, thus showing that they believe his ordination (which occurred all the way back in WorldWide) to be valid.

      This is how I understand the process–did I make any sense?

      Comment by Melissa | December 16, 2010 | Reply


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