Only One UCGIA Organization in Latin America
We Have Only One UCGIA-affiliated Church Organization in Latin America
December 9, 2010
Dear Fellow Brethren,
The Rules of Association of the United Church of God, an International Association, permit only one UCGIA-affiliated entity in each country or geographical area of the world. Therefore, we feel it necessary and proper to bring you up to date on events that have transpired regarding the United Church of God in Latin America.
Despite what some are saying, the Council of Elders and home office administration have made repeated conscientious, good-faith efforts to reestablish a close relationship and to attempt to settle and resolve our differences with the Latin ministry. Regrettably, the vast majority of these ministers have decided to follow another leader, outside of the organization of the United Church of God.
With this in mind, on Nov. 30 the Council of Elders discussed and subsequently reached a decision to pass a resolution on this matter. As you can appreciate, it is very important to distinguish between congregations and elders in Latin America that are recognized as being affiliated with UCGIA and those that are not. Here are the key points from the resolution:
- Leon Walker was replaced as the regional director of the Spanish-speaking areas of UCGIA by the president of UCGIA in June 2010.
- Dennis Luker is now regional director of the Spanish-speaking areas of UCGIA.
- On Aug. 11, 2010, Mr. Walker stated that he remained in the position of regional director of the Spanish-speaking areas even though he had been removed from that post by the Council the previous June.
- Leon Walker had his ministerial credentials revoked on July 1, 2010, and could not, as a consequence, hold such a ministerial position within UCGIA.
- The Rules of Association for UCGIA state that only one body in a given country or geographical area can represent UCGIA (Rule 3-110).
- The Rules of Association also state that a pastor (which includes a senior or regional pastor—the equivalent of a regional director) for a country or geographical area must be credentialed by, and in good standing in UCGIA (Rule 2-100 and UCGIA Pastor’s Policy Manual), and the Council is the authority that interprets which body or entity will be recognized as a part of UCGIA (Rule 4-130).
- Therefore, the members and elders in Latin America who follow Mr. Walker (a decredentialed elder) as their regional director, can in fact, no longer be officially affiliated with UCGIA.
- So, the Council of Elders has officially acknowledged that:
- Leon Walker, due to no longer being a minister in UCGIA, is ineligible to serve as a UCGIA elder, pastor or regional pastor or director.
- The Council confirms UCGIA president Dennis Luker as the regional director of the Spanish areas.
- The Council has determined that only groups or entities and their elders in the Latin American areas who recognize UCGIA’s governing structure with Mr. Luker as the regional director, or such other regional director as may be approved by the Council, are considered to be part of UCGIA.
- That elders in the Latin American areas who recognize Leon Walker as their regional director or pastor, cannot claim to be a part of UCGIA and are thus part of another religious entity operating outside of the officially recognized UCGIA entities in the Latin American region.
Brethren, please understand that the United Church of God has viable congregations throughout Latin America, each duly being shepherded by a UCGIA minister. At present, almost 500 brethren have chosen to remain with us, and we are providing financial support for their needs, arranging their summer youth camps, establishing youth corps projects, running Feast sites, providing scholarships to needy students, renting church halls and ensuring Sabbath services and Bible studies are held each week. In addition, three Spanish-speaking elders and other Church leaders are traveling on a regular basis to assist the two resident Latin American pastors.
We are seeing ongoing growth as more brethren decide to keep their UCGIA affiliation. We will continue to look after their needs. Thank you for your prayers and concern as we do all within our power to care for our Latin American brethren, and all of our brethren wherever they may reside.
Melvin Rhodes—Chairman of the Council of Elders