Reply to the “Open Letter”
[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,